Just because

Seen in Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington. Su Leslie 2018

I am well and truly back from my little break in Wellington. The bags are unpacked and the laundry’s done. I’ve even dealt to the email backlog.

Unusually, the camera’s SD card isn’t particularly full from this trip. I think the weather may have played a part in this. Although the threatened rain held off, the wind was sufficiently robust to cause the organisers of the LUX light festival to close the event early on two evenings due to public safety concerns.

But I suspect also that Wellington has become almost a second home (albeit one where someone else makes the bed and clean towels appear as if by magic), and as such I no longer see it with eager eyes and lens.

I did however, enjoy the whimsy of the poster above (and yesterday’s Wordless Wednesday shop window).

The poster is promoting an initiative that invites visitors to the museum to “hang” their choice of work from the collection on a virtual Art Wall. Annabelle’s choice (above) is by Michael Smither, and is called big occity (1984).

Given the wealth of NZ art and the large collection at Te Papa, I’d struggle to chose just one work to add to the wall. But this work, Mangaweka, by Robin White, would definitely be a contender. I love the simplicity and clarity — and I have a sneaky fondness for the tiny village of Mangaweka in the central north island.

Regular Random: five minutes (or more) in the artist’s studio

Claire Delaney, artist, illustrator and teacher at work on a portrait in her studio. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

Claire Delaney, artist, illustrator and teacher at work in her studio. Image: Su Leslie, 2018

Another session photographing my friend Claire‘s studio. She was teaching a class, but until I have permission from the women attending to post images of them, here are a few of Claire and the minutiae of the studio.

Five Minutes of Random (the #RegularRandom challenge) is hosted by Desley Jane at Musings of a Frequently Flying Scientist.

If you’d like to join in:

  • choose a subject or a scene
  • spend five minutes photographing it – no more!
  • try to see it from many angles, look through something at it, change the light that’s hitting it
  • tag your post #regularrandom and ping back to Desley’s post
  • have fun!

At play with the meaning of things

Still life with hibiscus -- or afternoon tea with a good book. Close-up shot of tea cup, plate with biscuits, book and single hibiscus.  Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

Still life with hibiscus — or afternoon tea with a good book. Image: Su Leslie, 2017. Edited with Snapseed and Stackables.

The Making of Home, by Judith Flanders (pictured above) is my go-to book at the moment; something to be savoured and digested carefully in small, thoughtful bites.

It’s a social historical account of how the mythology of “home” has been constructed over the last few centuries, and of how that has changed everything from the placement of furniture to the value of women’s work. To quote the Financial Times’ review:

In The Making of Home, Judith Flanders has many interesting, and sometimes startling, things to say about what domesticity means to us, how that meaning has changed – and how it has endured. As she points out, nostalgia is the presiding spirit in the age of consumerism and has been so since the 18th century. Suburban homes across the developed world represent a longing for an imaginary pre-industrial age. These dreams are of course fantasies: until very recently, most homes were hovels carrying no deeper meaning for their inhabitants than shelter and survival. Few people, even two centuries ago, had more than one chair, let alone chairs sufficient for the contented family meal at the simple cottage table that is so integral to the northern European ideal. — Financial Times, October 11, 2014

In the Introduction, Flanders sets out to show how our notions of what “home” means are shaped by cultural representations. She examines Dutch 17th century paintings of domestic scenes — which have come to be regarded as “the very epitome of homeness” — yet bear little resemblance to actual Dutch houses of the time. This point is reinforced in a recent BBC Culture article “Why Vermeer’s paintings are less real than we think.”

These days, I measure the quality of a book partly by how many creative ideas it inspires in me. The Making of Home is scoring highly here; beginning with the little still life above. Simple capture of a peaceful moment? Or highly constructed ironic comment on hegemonic representations of domesticity?

This digression into the sociology of home was written for Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge at Lens and Pens by Sally.