Finding red


Lang Ea, Pop! Boom! Bang! Sculpture in the Gardens, 2018. Image: Su Leslie

Red is a benevolent dictatorship.
— James Jannard, founder Oakley Inc.

Patti’s challenge was to ‘find something red.’ My personal challenge is not to go overboard with this. I love red; red clothes, red lipstick, red food, red cars and (I’m not sure I realised this, red art).

su at london road

Long ago (and far away). Red as armor in the days of office politics and shoulder pads. Image: The Big T, 1991.


Seeing double. Image: Su Leslie 2019


Work in progress: The Big T’s cafe racer. Image: Su Leslie 2018


Chen Wenling, Harbour. Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, 2015. Image: Su Leslie

And I know I’ve posted the Anish Kapoor sculpture before, but surely this fits Patti’s brief very well. Red art on a monumental scale: it is 85 metres long, and each end is 25m x 8m.

Red, of course, is the colour of the interior of our bodies. In a way it’s inside out, red.
— Anish Kapoor

Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site 1, 2009. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie


Anish Kapoor, Dismemberment, Site 1, 2009. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, NZ. Image: Su Leslie

Lens-Artists Photo Challenge | find something red

Pleasure in ambiguity

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Who else has passed this way? Cobbled lane, North Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2016

“To me photography must suggest, not insist or explain.”
– Brassaï

Ambiguity in an image can come from many sources; choice of subject, an unusual camera angle or focal point, unexpected movement, or shooting through an opaque surface — to think of a few.

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Detail, PixCell-Red Deer, sculpture by Kohei Nawa, seen at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia. Image: Su Leslie 2016

wall of water state gallery vic

Out there. Visitors outside the National Gallery of Victoria, seen from the Waterwall. Image: Su Leslie 2016

By suggesting, rather than explaining, the photographer allows every viewer to create their own meanings and stories.

More fun that way.

Posted to Debbie’s weekly quotation-inspired image challenge at Travel with Intent

Postcards from Sydney #2

I am definitely feeling my age — or perhaps just my arthritic knee.

I visited Sculpture by the Sea today, and found that by the time I got to the trail end at Tamarama Beach, my knee was aching and I was feeling quite tired.

I suspect this may partly have been due to how busy the exhibition was. Trying to enjoy art with so many people intent on taking selfies is exhausting.

With 107 sculptures being exhibited, there is so much to see, and I will go back — probably quite early in the morning to avoid the worst of the crowds.

In the meantime, here are a few images from my day.

Another glimpse of my home away from home. The balcony is proving to be a lovely place to enjoy breakfast and dinner — and a glass of wine as the sun goes down.

There seems to be quite a lot of sculptures featuring human forms at this year’s exhibition. Here are a few of them:

Detail, “Niemand”: Victor Fresno, 2015 (with friend). Full sculpture below.

Bank”: Mu Boyan, 2017. One of the most popular sculptures, judging by the crowds surrounding it.

Thoughts of Pinocchio”: Kim Bongsoo — and detail below.

Look inside my mind”: Studioex@UNSW

I’ll leave you with a shot I took outside a bookshop in Newtown. I like the Karen Walker quote (she’s a Kiwi fashion designer for those who don’t know), but I absolutely love the blind-date book idea. What should I choose?

Seven day black & white photo challenge: day one

Elizabeth Thompson, Moths, 2014-2017. Seen in Sarjeant on Quay Gallery, Whanganui.

My dear friend Sarah at Art Expedition has issued an open invitation to join the Seven Day Black & White Photo Challenge, and I’m taking her up on it.

The rules are:

Seven days. Seven black & white photos of your life. No people. No explanations. Challenge someone new everyday.

I’m issuing an open challenge too. Who else will join in?

DP Photo Challenge: liquid

I couldn’t go to Wellington and not share a photo of the city’s iconic bucket fountain. Especially as this week’s theme for the Daily Post Photo Challenge is liquid.

The bucket fountain was designed and constructed by architects and planning consultants Burren & Keen in 1969, as part of the creation of a pedestrian-only mall in lower Cuba Street. The fountain was originally derided (amongst other complaints was the regular soaking of said pedestrians as water splashed beyond the buckets onto the pavement), but over time it has become a much-loved and much-photographed landmark.

DP Photo Challenge: green

A celebration of green. Daily Post Photo Challenge | it IS easy being green

Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge: looking back on the year

Like Sally and Raewyn (decocraftsdigicrafts),  I’m using this last post of the year to Sally D’s Mobile Photography Challenge  to look back at some of the images I’ve shared in 2015.

There are definite themes that emerge; my growing fascination with the minutiae of the natural world, my frustration with neo-liberal political and economic systems that devalue both human life and the earth upon which we depend, and a growing interest in the interplay between memory and image. And of course art; particularly sculpture. This last has also provided an excuse to indulge in another love — travel — taking me to Wellington for LUX Festival of Light, Gibbs Farm on the Kaipara, and Sydney for the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition at Bondi.


Visitors to Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, NSW, Australia pose by Norton Flavell's sculpture 'Dust.' Image: Su Leslie, 2015

How to experience art in the twenty first century. Artwork: ‘Dust’ by Norton Flavell. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

At Bondi, I noticed an alarming number of visitors treating works of art as little more than backdrop for selfies; this became the basis of my post Putting yourself in the picture: how to experience art in the 21st century.

88.5 degrees ARC x8

Bernar Venet, ‘88.5 ARC x 8. Gibbs Farm Sculpture Park, Kaipara Harbour, NZ. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

A rainy day visit to the monumental sculptures at Gibbs Farm left me feeling renewed and awed at the juxtaposition of art and landscape (Art in the Outdoors: a vigorous antidote to melancholy)

Art installation, "Feed the Kids Too [Capital]", Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

Feed the Kids Too [Capital], Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet, Wellington LUX, 2015. Photo; Su Leslie, 2015

My friends Turtle Donna Sarten and Bernie Harfleet took their beautiful and thought-provoking work Feed the Kids Too to Wellington’s LUX Festival where it proved once again to be a hit with visitors.

"All that is solid melts into air" graffitti on old pipes lying alongside the River Thames, London. Black and white photo by Su Leslie, 2015.

Riverside, Greenwich, London. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

Marx’s “all that is solid melts into air” graffiti’d onto rusting pipes beside London’s Thames provoked a piece on urbanisation and unchecked growth — a theme I had already visited in an earlier challenge — On the Half-Gallon, Quarter-Acre Pavlova Paradise.


High density housing on the city fringes. Far from the “Kiwi quarter acre” and beyond the means of many. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015.

Politics was never far from my thoughts in 2015, as the Big T and I joined many thousands of people around the world protesting at the proposed TPPA agreement.


The face of peaceful protest to protect New Zealand’s economy, environment and way of life. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015



Enjoying the beauty of age. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Photo-editing as a tool to explore the relationships between image, emotion and memory became increasingly important to me, as I began to focus on the natural world and my place in it.

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Agapanthus. Photo: Su Leslie, 2014. Edited with Snapseed.


Money tree blossom. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

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Autumn. Photo: Su Leslie 2015.

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Surprisingly warm for the time of year; the boy-child testing the water. Photo: Su Leslie, 2015

And sometimes I managed not to over-think and seek deeper meaning. Sometimes, I was able just to enjoy the moment and the images that captured that moment — particularly when it meant spending time with my son.

To Sally, many thanks for hosting this challenge. Thanks too to everyone who takes part and makes the experience so interesting, sociable and rewarding.

Wishing you all a very happy new year.

ngā mihi o te tau hou


Sally D’s Mobile Photograhy Challenge: black and white

Seen in Sydney. Woolloomooloo Bay Sculpture Walk. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

Seen in Sydney. Woolloomooloo Bay Sculpture Walk. Unknown artist. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

I’m finding it difficult not to feel overwhelmed by the tragedies that engulf so many in the world. I’m thinking not only of acts of terrorism and the on-going refugee crisis, but the less visible evils that are visited upon us. In my own country government policies work hand in hand with corporate greed to create and exacerbate homelessness, poverty, welfare dependence, child deprivation and the long-term consequences of these for physical and mental health.

If feels sometimes that society, instead of being a strong membrane that holds us together, has become infected — a weeping sore through which evil seeps.

Not a cheery thought I grant you, and probably not what the artist who created the sculpture above was thinking. But I found myself looking at the shot with that gloomy thought in mind. Then I found Brecht’s poem below, reminding us that things are always more complex and nuanced that we might want to believe.

On my wall hangs a Japanese carving,
The mask of an evil demon, decorated with gold lacquer.
Sympathetically I observe
The swollen veins of the forehead, indicating
What a strain it is to be evil.

The Mask Of Evil
Bertolt Brecht

It is also a reminder of how much art and beauty can help heal us.

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Finding peace in simple beauty. Image: Su Leslie, 2015

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


Daily Post Photo Challenge: Careful


Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015

Barbara Licha’s sculpture, Listen time passes  seems to me to fit very well with this week’s Daily Post Photo Challenge theme — careful.

The work is a series of figures encased in wire boxes suspended on poles by a cliff-edge. Although grouped, each figure exists in its own space, separated from the others by the tangle of wire which forms both a  prison, and the support structure that prevents each figure from falling into the ocean.

Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015


Detail: Barbara Licha; ‘ Listen time passes’ seen at Sculpture by the Sea 2015, Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia. image: Su Leslie, 2015

The title of the work is a line from the opening monologue of Dylan Thomas’s ‘Under Milkwood’.

The narrator is describing, in rich and careful detail, nighttime in the small town of Llareggub where the inhabitants experience in their dreams the wild and fantastical denied them in their careful waking lives:

The boys are dreaming wicked or of the bucking ranches of the night and the jollyrogered sea.

You can listen to the wonderful Richard Burton as The Narrator, delivering the opening monologue here.

‘Under Milkwood’ is one of my favourite plays; and the opening monologue one of the best ever written. It reminds us that no matter how carefully we craft our social selves, our dreams and passions and loves and losses will always shape our actions and relationships with others. Barbara Licha’s work similarly speaks of the carefully constructed, parallel worlds we each inhabit; touching but not always connecting.