Monthly Archives: May 2010

Taking the plunge

Safe - plunging into a contained environment!

Sometimes we just have to take the plunge!

No use hanging out toes over the edge and thinking of all the reasons why we shouldn’t…the what ifs…

Last night we were privileged to observe (and feel) the pain and anguish of Jay-jay and Dom – well-known radio hosts – while they went through the roller-coaster ride that is IV treatment. Desperate to have a child, they had already unsuccessfully gone through three attempts. It was heart-rending – I so wanted a good outcome for them, but it was not to be.

We cried with them.

It must have been so hard making their decision to try again, but what do you do? If you don’t give it a go, you’re left wondering if you should have. And if you do, you’re know the journey has a huge emotional toll and likely to end in pain.

I feel very deeply for Jay-jay and Dom and I thank them for opening our eyes and letting us in and sharing their lives. While I have always been sympathetic for friends unable to have children, I have never appreciated what they have had to put their body and soul through.

The pain is immeasurable.

Let us find our own way home

Just look at the beautiful leather and the detail

Fleur Wickes gave her photography students (including me) a challenge recently – let us find our own way home.

What does this mean? … with an emphasis on the ‘does’. When the six of us took up the challenge, I took it to mean – to find my way of expressing me – through photography. I searched and searched my soul for the deep and meaningful. Nope, nothing there!

You see, I love the detail. I love the ‘added extras’ as they were called when I was working in retail. In that context it meant what else you encourage the hapless customer into buying, but in my context, I mean the little extras that go into building the whole picture. I don’t look inside myself – I look outside at what’s in front of me. Granted, I don’t always see it – but the past six weeks has taught me to look just that little bit closer.

Like the shoes one of my subjects was wearing.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love a pair of the  shoes pictured above. I don’t care if they’re men’s shoes – I think they’re awesome and they look so so comfortable. I can feel the softness of the leather just by looking at them.

So getting back to trying to find my own way home. For me this has meant acknowledging that I love fashion and I do notice the care people take in dressing themselves. I don’t judge – it really doesn’t matter to me how people in general dress. I don’t think any the less of them. I just happen to notice and appreciate that little things people do to complement the whole look – whether it’s a stunning necklace or brooch, a dash of bright lipstick or as with my gentleman above, a beautiful pair of shoes.

And as I’ve stalked (camera at the ready) Wellington’s streets in the past weeks, I’ve come to appreciate more the different styles around. From the girl with the very holey (looking torn actually) tights who’d taken enormous care in putting her look together, to the male model elegantly posed  against the Country Road window with a cigarette dangling at just the right angle from his right hand. I’m looking much much closer…there are so many photographs waiting to be taken.

We are exhibiting our work in a fortnight’s time – I hope that my way home is clear.

May 23rd – those who die young

Celebrating the good times

May 23rd is a significant day in our small and imperfectly formed family. My brother Richard was born on this day in 1951 – he died on 14 August 1976 on the hills above Pukerua Bay, the victim of a freak hang gliding accident.

Very few days go by when I don’t think about him and wonder who the adult Richard would have been. The father, the uncle, the businessman (maybe) and the brother. We were invited to a birthday party this May 23rd. It was incredibly special, not just because of the person who’s birthday we were celebrating, but also because of it’s significance to me.

Dying young is tragic on so many many levels. We were reminded of it this week with the untimely death of a four-year old boy in Christchurch. The hearts of our small nation went out to the family.

Hard as I try, I cannot imagine how Richard the 59-year old would look. I see him (with his Richie McCaw eyes!) as a young man with a wicked smile, a ready laugh and a sensitive soul. He was gifted, very artistic and musical and he gathered like-minded friends.

He hasn’t aged.

He is still young and will remain – just as the song says – forever young.

Out and about on the streets of Wellington

Superb detail on this jacket with an accompanying combination of texture and patterns.

The past few weeks have seen me consumed by a photographic project – one that has taken me right out of my comfort zone while giving me a lot of pleasure.

I’m a devoted fan of  The Sartorialist – a blog focusing on people and fashion on the streets of New York, Paris, Milan, Tokyo – wherever the travels of Scott Schumann take him. It’s a wonderfully refreshing site. There is no need for text, the photographs say it all  with succinct headings setting the scene.

He photographs anyone that captures his attention – his head turned by their personal style.

Scott uploads images to his site every day; every morning I start with a dose of life through his eyes.  It’s hot and sunny in New York today. How do I know? Well a stunning girl in Soho is wearing a shoestring strap top and a floaty summer skirt. She looks happy, warm and totally gorgeous.

We are encouraged to look for detail – fine details in a photograph lift them out of the ordinary.

Looking for a project to focus on in another course in portrait photography with Fleur Wickes, I decided that emulating the great Scott Schumann in the streets of Wellington would be perfect. The style needed works well with my love of faces and fashion…and of course, I love Wellington.

I must admit to feeling ever so dorky as I head out along Lambton Quay of a lunchtime with my camera slung around my neck. I’ve discovered that I really do need to take photos with my glasses on – if I want to see what I’ve captured on the LCD screen – and that if I go up to a stranger and tell them I think they look cool, they’re genuinely pleased!

Followed closely by “Can I take your picture please,” they’re quite happy to oblige.

I never thought I could do that!

Although there are definitely interesting styles along Lambton Quay, there is a predominance of the corporate look – black.  The quirkier and more outrageous styles of dressing are in the Cuba Street, Courtney Place area. On Cuba St the other day, I damn well nearly ran after a fellow I wanted to photograph. (I was walking very quickly with my camera bouncing at each step and working up quite a sweat.) I think he must have thought me a cougar on the prowl as he disappeared down an alleyway.

Can’t blame a fellow for thinking that can we? It is that little bit harder to approach men!

My project is progressing well. Thank you Scott for your inspiration…Wellington has an abundance of great people, attitudes and styles to photograph.

Growing up with Chopin

Memories rekindled


I’ve often talked about the memories of smell and taste…about how evocative and powerful they are.

I was reminded this week about the importance sound plays in our lives. I was at a New Zealand Symphony Orchestra concert. The programme for the evening was entitled ‘Polish Pride’ and  featured music from Chopin, Szymanowski and Lutoslawski.

The evening began with a tribute to Chopin, who’s birth was being celebrated, and to the recent tragic accident which killed the beloved Polish premier among others. Poland’s ambassador to New Zealand spoke – the first of the evening’s sound memories, her accent being reminiscent of my father’s.

In case you haven’t already guessed, I have a good dose of Polish blood, my father having been born and raised there. We missed out on a lot of consonants…I don’t know quite how that happened! Chopin had only one more than us.

I was reared with the hauntingly beautiful melodies of Frederick Chopin playing in the background. My favourite record (a 75) was a Children’s Classic recording of the ‘Life of Frederick Chopin’; his story took the form of a play – fabulous voices of course – with all his music in the background. The cover had aline drawing of Chopin in profile with a deep pink backdrop and black cursive text. How I loved that story and how I loved Chopin – he was so real. His life was cut short by a terrible consumptive illness – I think tuberculosis. As a child I felt his pain – I cried every time he died.

And whenever I was unwell, I had Chopin’s cough! The family joke …

My father has great dreams for me – he wanted be to be a concert pianist just like Chopin. Only problem was – you guessed it – I was not concert pianist material. I’m sure he gave instruction to both my piano teachers – old Ma Higgins who used to slap her ruler over my fingers at every wrong note while digging wax out of her ears with a biro, and another similarly horrofic woman who shall remain nameless – to teach me everything, as long as it was Chopin. I could do Chopin…except when there were far to many accidentals for my brain to cope with.

I loved the minor keys – I still do.

On Thursday night when the second movement of Chopin’s Piano Concert No 2 began an unexpected lump rose in my throat. My eyes welled with tears as the familiar melodies from my childhood filled the concert hall. The feeling continued as I listened to the sublime playing of Diedre Irons…I relaxed back to let the music and the feelings flow over and through me. It was wonderful. The same emotions continued through the third movement.

I wished that the NZSO had dedicated its whole programme to the works of Chopin.

Why didn’t I try harder when I was young?