On public art, festivals and the power of community

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Out on the street. Couple at the LUX Festival, Wellington, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

I spent last weekend in Wellington, visiting friends and enjoying the LUX Light Festival; a free public event that attracts thousands of people onto the streets and waterfront area  to enjoy clever, whimsical and creative light sculptures.

LUX is incredibly family-friendly; the works are easily accessible and there are performances, activities, street food, and a range of glow-in-the-dark merchandise (including ice-cream) to delight kids.

Visitors to LUX gather around 'Control, No Control' by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

Visitors to LUX gather around ‘Control, No Control’ by Daniel Iregui (Iregular), Frank Kitts Park, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

A good night out. Girls enjoying the night market at LUX, Wellington. Image: Su Leslie, 2017

On Tuesday as I waited for my flight home, news of the Manchester Arena bomb began to appear. By the time I reached Auckland, it was known that people had died, amongst them children.

With each terror attack, each mass-shooting and atrocity that occurs in the world, I struggle to comprehend how anyone can feel enough hatred and anger to knowingly kill and maim complete strangers going about their day-to-day lives.

I think of the people who rugged up and went out to enjoy street art, and of the people who dressed up and went to a pop concert; of those whose memories are of a fun night out, and those whose lives were taken or forever damaged.

Festivals, concerts, public events; these things are essential to the fabric of our communities. They build and strengthen the bonds between us though the sharing of food, music, art and fun. That they seem increasingly a target for terrorism, is worrying. If we become too afraid to go out and share in the joy and camaraderie of public events, we lose not only personal happiness, but community strength.

Yet in adversity people do come together, looking for ways to connect with our shared culture and common humanity. Manchester’s Tony Walsh has shown how art is integral to this, reading his poem, This is the Place at a vigil for the Manchester Arena victims.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.

Connected at the heart

Close up of blue thistle head, filling frame. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Blue thistle. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

It’s odd how the brain makes leaps when you need it to.

Fellow blogger Gallivanta at Silkannthreades, sent me this link (Community Spirit, at The Mundanity of it All)  about a community rallying around to help an elderly woman, recently widowed, prepare her house for sale. It’s a story about people engaged in everyday goodness, and I’m sure many (hopefully most) of us could tell a similar story.

Because despite the very real, very scary things that are happening in our world, everyday life for many of us is at least sprinkled with kindness. With a desire for positive, even if fleeting, connections with others.

And oddly, that’s where the blue thistle comes in. All those individual flowers separated from the others on the surface, are of course joined at the centre, and wouldn’t survive without that connection. Nor would the plant as a whole survive without the individual flowers reaching outwards.

Maybe that is something we need to remember. That no matter how much we grow out and in our own direction, we all spring from the same heart. It’s both what feeds us, and makes us meaningful.

Written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally

Friday flip through the archives

"... and the road seems so much longer when you're alone." Dirty Lucy, 'Ride'  Evening sky in car side mirror. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

  Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Found this image and a line from the Dirty Lucy song Ride popped into my head:

… and the road seems so much longer when you’re alone.

The world is feeling particularly fractured right now — physically, socially and politically — and it is easy to feel overwhelmed. Now more than ever it is important to find others who feel as we do, and join together to work for the future we believe in.