A walk in the park

Three blue-purple teardrop-shaped lights on jet-black background. Seen at New Plymouth Festival of Lights, 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

From the ‘Glow Zone’; light art at New Plymouth Festival of Lights. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

While in New Plymouth earlier this month, the Big T and I went to the Festival of Lights at Pukekura Park.

This is a free event, which runs annually from mid December until the end of January. It started in 1953, and in recent years attracts over 100,000 visitors.

Throughout the park, lights are attached to trees and bridges, set alongside paths or in gardens to create a colourful wonderland each night. A series of light sculptures — like the light couch above  — pop up around the trail to surprise and delight.

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Lighting the waterfall is a regular feature of the festival. Seen at New Plymouth Festival of Light, 2016. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I particularly loved ‘Mirror – Ballistic’ — disco balls suspended above the Poets’ Bridge, and these ‘Jellyfish’ hanging over the lake.

It had been raining for several days when we went to the festival, and although some of the paths were a bit muddy (and it was incredibly humid), visitors were undeterred — simply carrying raincoats and umbrellas, and putting their kids in gumboots rather than sandals.

I found this quote, and for me it sums up the spirit of the Festival of Lights.

Light gives of itself freely, filling all available space. It does not seek anything in return; it asks not whether you are friend or foe. It gives of itself and is not thereby diminished.

~Michael Strassfeld




Nature: big and small

Surf life savers at Mairangi Bay, Auckland. Stormy day at the beach. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

In praise of Surf Life Saving New Zealand. Even on this stormy day at Mairangi Bay, Auckland, the flags and guards were out. The organisation is a non-profit and protects over 80 NZ beaches each summer. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

I’m feeling sad for the thousands of New Zealanders whose summer holiday spirit is being dampened (quite literally) by the frequent storms that are hitting our country. For many families, the period between Christmas and mid-January is traditionally a time to pack the car and head off to campgrounds, motels and holiday homes. I guess there will be a lot of Scrabble and Jenga being played right now.

Stormy seas at Takapuna Beach, Auckland, New Zealand. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Takapuna Beach, New Year’s Day 2016. A couple of holidaymakers from the nearby campground brave the coastal walk. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

For farmers and gardeners though, the rain is very welcome; bringing some respite from drought.

Trees silhouetted against mist, January 2016, New Plymouth, Taranaki. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Country road, Taranaki. The ocean is out there — somewhere. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

I shot the two images just above and below, within about 10 minutes of each other, at Paritutu, New Plymouth. The first looks like it could have been taken on any winter’s day, but it is the height of summer. And when the mist cleared a little, the lush vegetation brought some much-needed colour to the landscape.

Sugar Loaf Islands, New Plymouth, Taranaki, NZ. Shot from reserve adjacent to Paritutu. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Sunshine between the rain showers, Sugar Loaf Islands, New Plymouth, Taranaki, NZ. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

Home from our road-trip, I’m starting to harvest the fruit in our garden. This morning I picked tomatoes and plums. Tomorrow I think the first fig will be ripe.

Close-up shot of ripening tomatoes. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Almost ready to pick. Tomatoes ripen in my garden. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

Close-up shot of ripe cherry tomatoes. Image: Su Leslie, 2016

First harvest. Image: Su Leslie, 2016.

This post was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge. This week’s theme is nature.


Travel theme: pathways of light

Pathways is Ailsa’s theme this week at Where’s my Backpack.

Lighting the way; an installation at the New Plymouth Festival of Lights

I’m one of those people who focuses on the destination, not the journey; the goal rather than the process. I understand this about myself and accept it. I know it means I miss stuff but I’m ok with that. I figure I’m happy enough with who I am not to feel the need to change that particular part of my psyche.

So focusing on pathways is an interesting concept for me. Afterall, pathways exist to go somewhere and I have probably always been too busy thinking about that somewhere to capture the road I’m on. Then I found the photo above of an installation at the New Plymouth Festival of Lights. You could say that it’s connection with pathways is a bit tangential, and maybe that’s true, but it got me thinking about how light itself is a kind of pathway.By illuminating some things and leaving others in darkness, light creates a way forward – a direction.

“There are apparently few limitations either of time or space on where the psyche might journey and only the customs inspector employed by our own inhibitions restricts what it might bring back when it reenters the home country of everyday consciousness.” ― Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume

The photo above was taken in Federation Square, Melbourne, in June 2009 during the annual Light in Winter Festival. The sculpture consisted of this series of columns each of which lit up at different times, in different colours. Arranged in a grid, the columns formed multiple, transient pathways, based on the timing or the colour of the lights. In this photo, the pathway could be seen to lead to St Pauls Cathedral opposite Federation Square on Flinders Street.

Churches have traditionally been a source of light – both actual and spiritual. Many different pathways can take one to church. I don’t really believe in God, but within the large, elegant churches of the more established forms of Christianity, I find peace and beauty and joy. I experience these things not because of any belief in a supernatural being, but because they represent some of the highest forms of human creativity; in architecture, design, painting, sculpture and music.

pathways of light church

On a wet and bitingly cold winter’s night, St Patrick’s Cathedral in Auckland is a place of sanctuary. A path of gleaming white leading to the sacred space within which music, ritual, tradition and visual harmony embrace believers and those of us who are content to celebrate the genius of humanity.

The religious music of John Rutter embodies for me much that is truly good in humanity; a pathway to joy.