Monthly Archives: January 2010

Simple thoughts

Beauty at our feet

Sometimes I struggle with what I’m going to write about, especially when I have a photo that I really love and want to share and whatever thought it evokes.

I thought I was going to write about the weather, with the punchline being something along the lines of preferring water at my feet not over my head, except for in the shower of course! Today has been such a let down hasn’t it, fellow Wellingtonians?

But then I thought about why the image of running water appeals to me and why I had to try to capture it’s movement.

I’ve always loved clear clean lines and reflections. I remember when I saw my first Grahame Sydney painting and how captivated I was by it. I’ve always felt drawn toward his work – for me, his paintings are everything. They give the appearance of being photographic but are not. His lines are distinct, colours are clear and precise and his subjects ooze New Zealand.

I was incredibly privileged 28 years ago to work on a documentary that was being made about his work and his life. At the time he lived in Cromwell, Central Otago. I’d never been there before. It was November and it was breathtaking … golden rolling hills in every direction, as far as your eye could see. I was was three months pregnant at the time and wore  ghastly (I didn’t think so at the time of course) bright purple thick corduroy dungarees and a jade top.

What a absolute blot on the landscape…the man must have thought I was mad. The effect would have been jarring at the very least.

Anyway, he was very lovely, very humble, intensely private but seemed genuinely interested in my pregnant state. Perhaps because of my young age and my name being the same as his wife (at the time). The visit has left a huge impression, even after all these years.

So it was when I walked over to the stream at Eastbourne Beach yesterday. Clear running water, with the reflection of sun on the stones and the beautiful shapes lying at my feet. Pure and simple.

Summer in Wellington

Taking the plunge

At last – we can finally say we’ve had our first real day of summer. Twenty-seven degrees Celsius! What bliss…

After such a very long wait where we’ve had to to endure nightly weather reports listing most other NZ cities basking in glorious summer temperatures. And knowing we haven’t had a weekend of good weather since November…today has been so ridiculously exciting.

I should have know it would be today. The very day scheduled of our annual Orpheus Choir workshop – indoors! We are in rehearsal  for our part in the performance in Mahler’s 8th Symphony at the NZ International Festival of the Arts in late Feb, so I can’t complain.

We have a workshop day in January every year – it’s always on a stunning day and it’s always out at Wellesley College in Eastbourne. The day is always one very well spent, but it was hard seeing everyone enjoying the sun and the sea. In my typical early morning rush, I did not have the presence of mind to take my bathers along with me. We finished at 3pm and it was still amazingly hot with the beach more crowded than it had been at midday. A swim would have been so welcome.

Thank you weather gods – keep it up.

AC/DC comes to town

Get a load of the beard on the left - a goatee gone bush!

The thing that’s so exciting when big events come to town is seeing the multitude of different people the event brings to our ‘public service’ city. Tonight our beloved Westpac Stadium hosts the AC/DC Black Ice Tour. (Sorry I can’t find a lightening bolt to use instead of a slash.)

The city streets are crawling with people (predominantly male when I went out) dressed in rock gear. They look different – lots of black (nothing new there), lots of tattoo’s (more than usual), a variety of AC/DC t-shirts and some very interesting, but not necessary good-interesting,  hair and beard styles.

There are also heaps of ‘cars with attitude’ cruising the block – big, throaty ones!

Hey – but everyone’s smiling. All are looking forward to good times tonight.

I’ve been out and bought my earplugs. Oh yes, I’m not one to miss out on all this fun. But I did learn from my past experience at ‘Rock2Wellington’ that filtering out a bit of the volume could help me in the days following the concert… I do have to work.

Next week is the annual two-day international Rugby Seven’s tournament at the Stadium. The streets will be literally awash with punters dressed in all manner of gear – from Borat to ballerinas to beer barrels. This is just a warm-up to it.

I suggest that if you want to read a concert review tomorrow, you should check out  the When in Rome bro site. No doubt they’ll have a lot to say …

Lost and found

The errant bracelet

I can’t believe it! Seriously, I just can’t believe my luck.

Yet again, I’ve lost a precious piece of jewellery – a gift from my son – only to have it turn up again. This is not the first time.

There was the time many years, when after taking my son to rugby practice Kilbirnie, I realised I’d lost my mother’s string of pearls. I’d dropped him at the field and gone back in to town to shop for a sewing pattern. I was only in the shop a matter of minutes before heading back to my car and rugby practice.

When I realised my pearls were no longer around my neck I was devastated. There’s no other word for it. Losing possessions that I’ve bought is bad enough, but to lose something of my mother’s was upsetting beyond belief.

I did all the usual things – filed a report at the police station, retraced my steps again and again and again. Rang the store first thing in the morning and then when that was unsuccessful, placed a ‘lost’ ad in the ‘Evening Post’ even though I was convinced I’d never see them again.

Two days later I received a phone call from an elderly gent who’d noticed the necklace on the footpath by the bus stop outside Kirkcaldies. He picked them up and took them home with the thought the owner would be sure to advertise. He’d seen my notice in the newspaper. The sense of relief was immense and I was unbelievably grateful. I cried and cried.

Even though I offered a reward – he’d have none of it.

There was also the time, at the Tauherenikau Races, when I lost a gold link bracelet my partner had given me. I felt sick to the pit of my stomach the whole day, and spent most of it scouring the long grass between the car park and our picnic area to no avail.

When we finally arrived back in Karori after 9.00pm that night I suggested we have one final look at the money machine where I’d withdrawn some cash about 12 hours earlier.

There, lying on the edge of the footpath hanging over the gutter was my bracelet! I could go on….

Today, at lunchtime I noticed my silver and onyx bracelet was no longer on my wrist. I’d gone for a long lunchtime walk and was at the other end of town. Feeling sick yet again – as you do – I back-tracked following my exact route.

When I arrived back at work, I decided to have one last look in the café where I’d sat with my long black at 8.15am. As soon as I walked in, they knew the reason for my visit and placed the bracelet carefully in my hands. They’d been waiting. It had been found on the floor underneath the chair on which I’d been sitting.

Funnily enough, this morning I received one of those tiresome emails you have to read and pass on to ‘X’ number of people. If you don’t something dreadful will happen to you. This one said, you just HAD to read the poem after the preamble. So I did – phew! Maybe if I hadn’t ????

Now to pass it on….

Lesson on passion from Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze and wife Lisa Niemi

I was given a book for Christmas that I probably wouldn’t have bought myself. I would have picked it up and glanced at the photographs within for sure. It was Patrick Swayze’s autobiography The Time of my Life’.

Don’t get me wrong, I really admired the guy and particularly loved watching him dance. He had a beautiful physique and undoubted charisma. He was gorgeous…and I was so sad when news broke about his battle with pancreatic cancer, and then his untimely death.

Dirty Dancing was one of those movies I consider one of my all time favourites, along with Flashdance. The PianistMoonstruck, Gloomy Sunday and several others. OK – out of those he only featured in one, but I think you get the drift. I love dance, music, struggles against adversity and schmaltz

I’ve just finished reading Time of my Life. It is an amazing story of Swayze and his wife Lisa’s quest to take their passion for dance and for acting as far as they possibly could. In his case, he endured incredible pain from a number of serious injuries dating back to high school days. Injuries he never really recovered from, but persevered on nonetheless. There appears no doubt that had he been free from injury his career might have been different for his first passion was in ballet.

Whatever challenge he undertook, he gave it his absolute all. He wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and there were times he and Lisa really struggled financially. Throughout all their very real struggles they never gave up on each other or their passions.

Time of my Life was a great reminder of the importance of never giving up – on anything! If we have a passion we should let the flame burn and nurture it – keep it alive.

Interpreting clouds

Puffy goodness

“Bows and flows of angel hair, and ice-cream castles in the air, and feathered canyons everywhere – I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone, so many things I could have done, but clouds got in my way…” [from Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell]

So it is for January 2010.

These ones weren’t so bad with their backdrop of blue sky. The ones hovering over Wellington have been less welcome. Enough said.

Summer fruit

Nikau Cafe's tantalising pears - too beautiful to eat

I love the care people take in displaying fruit. Particularly in summer when the colours of apricots, peaches, nectarines and all the various berries are so gorgeous and so varied in their intensity.

I try to place the fruit in colour groups in our beautiful blue and white fruit bowl sitting on the bench – each piece of fruit is like a mini work of art and in the warmer temperatures, they don’t last. But by the time the rest of the family have picked their way through the delights, any attempts at colour and shape grouping are gone.

Our favourite Wellington coffee stop, the Nikau Cafe in Civic Square who always take special care in their table and countertop displays. They have a commitment to use only locally-grown produce (including that from the Wairarapa) and have a preference for organic. The pears in the photograph above were on display there this week – I’m sure you’ll agree that they look incredible.

I do so love summer fruit even though we’ve seen precious little of an actual summer in Wellington. We’re reaping benefits from other parts of the country and should be thankful for that.

Sensory wonderland

Balls within balls

The Yoyoi Kusama exhibition at Wellington’s City Gallery has only two more weeks to run. I kept hearing of the long queues waiting to enter so thought that a visit during the weekday lunch hour might be my best opportunity to see it without crowds of people. My decision was right.

It really is the most amazing creation.

Kusama has an affinity with dots and net patterns.

Entire rooms are entirely covered by dots on all surfaces. Inflated and stuffed shapes cover the floors…walls and ceilings lined with mirrors give the impression of infinite depth.

Then there’s the room set up as a lake – with tiny multi-coloured lightbulbs suspended at of varying lengths from the ceiling. The mirrored walls and ceiling make you feel as if you’re in fairyland.

In the yellow room covered with black dots – stare long enough and the black begins to look purple. In the black room with yellow dots – a halo effect surrounds the dots. And the living room in darkness where everything in the room is covered in tiny flourescent dots.

Totally magical.

I read in the explanation of the work entitled “Infinity mirror room – Phallis Field – Floor show”:

“…succumbing to Kusama’s spell of overwhelming repetition…”

This room had mirrors on all surfaces and hundreds of stuffed phallis shapes (is that really how you spell it?) in white fabric with red dots, arose from the floor. The fields went on and on and on, the effect amazing especially with me standing there in my red patterned dress. I felt very much part of it.

She certainly cast her spell over me. I loved every second spent there. I just have to return for another dose of magic.

Beyond the pale

Nothing wrong with these folk - not a clipper in sight

There are some things best not done in public. Don’t get me wrong – no problem with people eating their lunch in the park on a lovely sunny day.

This morning however, while sipping on coffee, the subject of disgusting things people do in public was raised. It was because one of my colleagues, while walking past Midland Park had seen a man sitting down clipping his toenails. Following on from  last week when he had chanced upon the same thing at the bus stop outside Kirkcaldies. Twice in one week.

Aaargh we all agreed – gross, totally gross.

My contribution to the conversation was to tell about the time when having heard an unusual buzzing noise in the open space office area we investigated only to find an older colleague shaving at his desk – using an electric shaver. He did not think it in bad taste – suffice to say it did not go down at all well with the women. We were not impressed.

And then the same colleague thought it highly appropriate – at this desk – to floss his teeth and then drape his string of floss over the monitor, presumably to use it later.

This same person had a number of other unpalatable personal habits best not recorded here.

There is a place for personal hygiene – at home, preferably in the bathroom. Perhaps I’m overly sensitive but since when did these examples of intimate personal grooming move into the public arena. Am I right?

So I went out on a mission with my camera at lunch break. I was intent on catching other public displays of disgusting practices. I was sure that on a gorgeous sunny day, I was bound to see some really over the top ‘sucking face’, some abhorrent indecent exposure, or even some pimple-squeezing or nose-picking.

But no – nothing! Zilch…

There was a pigeon taking a bath under the fountain (feathers on), and a wee girl playing in the water – clothes on and sodden. Nothing that would even remotely approach disgusting. Phew!

Strangers no more

In the zone

We started the week as strangers – we are now no longer and also have the common bond of having shared an awesome experience.

It was so fantastic having a whole week to focus on just one thing! Such a rare treat.

From day one to six we all embraced the opportunity with commitment and enthusiasm. We adopted several mantras…straight from the mouth of Fleur.

“Show us your tonsils”

“Go hard or go home”

“If I don’t ask you to do anything, it’s because you’re doing what I want”

“Be hilarious”

“God is in the detail”

We shared a lot of laughter and a few tears. We helped each other resolve indecision. We gave support and encouragement, we bent and twirled our bodies in the name of art, we crawled along the floor, climbed stairs, ran, skipped, jumped … we learned a little of what it was like to be in front of the lens – and a lot about being behind it.

We learned the gentle art of persuasion, were privileged to observe intimate moments develop between photographer and model, and learned (also from observation) how to direct movement in the subtlest of ways.

Weeks like the one I’ve just experienced make a life-long impact.

We (or I) learned so much about photography and about how important it is to strive to capture special moments. I learned that it might take hours to do so…and a lot of clicking. I learned how different it is when the emotional connection between the subject and the photographer is evident and how much difference it makes to the picture. And I learned how to recognise that picture – ‘God is in the detail’.

I’m learning to be kinder to myself.

I’ve begun another journey…

And I know that those with whom I shared the week will be there to help should I need them.