I'm also a member of Wall to Wall Art - a collective of a dozen local Nelson artists.
Originally known as Art@203 Gallery, the collective shifted premises in November 2018 from 203 Trafalgar St. to 112 Bridge St. and we decided to embrace a new name a few months later, having nested nicely into our new home.
Celebrating nearly a decade with Wan Smolbag Theatre in Vanuatu.
From July 10th to August 13th 2019 the feature wall in Wall to Wall hosted images selected from many, many taken working with Wan Smolbag Theatre in Vanuatu from 2002 to 2011.
Wan Smolbag Theatre is a non-profit educational drama group in Vanuatu that is currently celebrating 30 years in action. And action is right! Wan Smolbag has produced a wealth of educational and environmental plays, films, workshops and resource materials, and lists youth, health, sports and nutrition centres among its achievements.
I found myself at Wan Smolbag after arriving in Vanuatu as an unassigned partner with Volunteer Service Abroad. I soon had my raison d’être. Wan Smolbag needed a graphic design mentor, and I gradually progressed to rationalising the overall print and resource management alongside local staff keen to expand their skills.
A Drop in the Ocean... seemed a fitting title for my selection of photos, because it applies equally to presenting so few from so many (thousands!); to Smolbag’s ceaseless efforts promoting education and basic rights for ni-vanuatu and the peoples of the Pacific; and essentially it also reflects a little of how it feels when you’re dropped in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as a VSA volunteer.
You can’t be in the Pacific without being affected by the colours, light and ambience.
You can’t live in Vanuatu without growing to know and love individuals.
You can’t work with Wan Smolbag without being impressed by their commitment and many dramatic and community-based achievements.
All of these themes are in my photos. Many are just snaps, captured before the light changed or the action moved elsewhere. However, I regularly documented plays and workshops and took stills on film sets, for a plethora of purposes ranging from publicity to straightforward accountability for donor reports. Many of the photos were taken in challenging settings, with next to no light, and fast-moving subjects, or in hot, cramped, (shhhh... quiet) corners of a film set. It was probably lucky that my motivation was capturing the moment in time, over technical perfection and adequate lighting, because the theatre hangar has elephant grey walls and few windows! In spite of these constraints, I apply minimal adjustment, preferring to keep close to the original inspiration, flaws and all.
I hope these selected images give you a feel for a Vanuatu you may not have been as fortunate as me to experience.
My first solo exhibition Seeing Things ran from Monday 10th to Saturday 29th September 2018. Take a browse through just the images or see the images together with Things Seen in the panel on the right:
The title speaks for itself in terms of wild imaginings. I also like the underlying concept of our eyes being our 'seeing things'. The photos in the exhibition are all real. Optimised perhaps, but not ‘digitally remastered’. Imagination, however, is key to seeing things in the pictures. Some people do, some people don’t.
I made it ‘interactive’ in the old-fashioned sense inviting viewers to jot down their own ideas of what was in the pictures. We saw some very interesting things!
My first display at the gallery, in May 2018, was a collection of abstracts printed onto canvas blocks. All created from one photograph they offer multiple paths for the imagination to meander along.
A selection of A4 giclée prints, framed and in situ in the gallery. My first wall display as a newbie in Art@203. Looking quite at home, don't you think, alongside fused glass works by Roz Speirs and Lyn Broughton's colourful paintings.
The images & the ideas you shared - thank-you!:
(Though I'm not convinced some of the stickies didn't move in the night-time!)
Have you ever seen a blackbird playing dead in the sun? They spread their wings, crick their heads upwards and lie totally motionless. I’ve never been sure if they’re warming themselves in the sunshine or being cautious until a danger passes. But this photo reminds me of that trepidation. It was taken on an ordinary bush walk north of Karamea. Two more steps and he’d disappeared back into boulderdom.
Alternative ideas included:
Taken on a very dreich (wet) day in the Scottish countryside. Colours often pop out on a wet day. On this occasion, it was a little woolly mammoth that popped out to say hello to me.
On the way back down the path from the Oparara Arch I happened to glance left, then did a back-step to capture this goofy drinking bird lookalike.
Amazing what you find on the beach: a sea swan! Or a rusty, old hook to the uninitiated. I don’t know the proper name of what it actually used to be, but I do know what it is now, to me.
We were on the road to Kaikoura. I was busy snapping the wonderful colour mix between the sea, the grass and the sand, out of the car (passenger...) window. Suddenly I caught a glimpse of a wind-blown pony hiding in the sand dunes. Moving at about 90kph relative to my camera. With every fraction of a second the view would change, but here he is, in all his (or her) sweet glory.
On a recent trip to Moeraki, we (naturally) stopped off at the Boulders. But this little creature also caught my attention. I see it as a bit of a hybrid, part alien bird of prey, part mother hedgehog, no doubt by now washed c l e a n away by the tides.
Castle Hill is a place I found really exhilarating. Picturesque and enticing, it provides a feast for the imagination. Can you see the rump of a lumbering rock creature, a kind of komodo dragon, as it moves slowly up the hill? Nature is truly amazing.
It’s tempting to envisage benign river gods watching over our waterways. Envisage no more.
Capturing this image was a real split second challenge! Flying at 900kph at 35,000 feet over the Australian outback, the vista of interesting colours and textures suddenly transformed into a fascinating image. I lunged for my camera among the long-haul detritus at my feet, before the prehistoric scene could deconstruct itself under the speed of modern flight. The quality’s not great, but there is an exquisite symbolism in such ancient creatures being depicted in this ancient land.
Moeraki Beach, of boulder fame. But it’s always worth walking on past a ‘must-see’ attraction, to get the wider picture. One cliff face offered me this jay bird. Not fossilised, just lurking... beautifully coloured and with a neat little quiff on his head.
Now this fella is local, as in Nelson-local. First espied (by me anyway) beside the path up to the Centre of New Zealand, 20-odd years ago. On a later walk up about 5 years ago, it had disappeared, presumably due to storm damage or ‘tree-care’. I was quite disappointed, but further up the path, just where you turn onto the last steep 5-minute race for the top, I saw him lounging in the long grass without a care in the world. I don’t actually know if he’s still there, but I don’t see why not. Maybe it’s time for another walk!
It was lighting and angle that changed this scene from a rock face to a penguin, a couple of acrobatic fish and a looming, upside-down, rugby player. The boat was moving, so by the time the shutter had closed the scene had already changed.
Our water barrel had served us well for grey water provision, but was finally beyond redemption. When we emptied it and rolled it onto its side I glimpsed the landscape inside, at once ethereal and Japanese. I had to work fast on that hot summer’s day as the image was desiccating before my eyes.
I was aware the New Hub was destined for demolition. I knew it better by its former name of The Artery and I’d always smiled a little as I walked past the sumptuous, DIY, funky exterior in New Street. Part of me couldn’t believe its destruction would actually happen, though I wasn’t materially or emotionally involved in the art space within. Or without for that matter.
I happened to walk past on the morning of its demolition, just as the jaws of the digger lingered with menace over the star round the window, and I managed to snap a few slightly surreal and abstract photos in memoriam of an awful of lot of work and creativity by some dedicated folk.
There is sometimes real beauty in decrepitude! The old House Parts business along Rocks Road was fascinating both inside and out. Above all, I loved its signage and on more than one occasion homed my camera in on the detail of the lichen, the desperately faded awning and the achy-flakey image of the lighthouse that was straight across the water from the real thing. This photograph shows details of the awning against the sun-bleached wooden door surround.
Sorry to repeat myself, but there is real beauty in decrepitude! The old House Parts business along Rocks Road was fascinating both inside and out. Above all, I loved its signage and on more than one occasion homed my camera in on the detail of the lichen, the desperately faded awning and the wonderful flaking image of the lighthouse that was straight across the water from the real thing. Certain compositions proved impossible without getting run over, so I limited myself to views from the far footpath.
Glow in the dark equine! OK, so it wasn’t exactly dark. This wee tree resin creature sat gleaming in the undergrowth behind Awaroa Inlet. And he was not alone; his mate Knobble-bobble was right there, too.
You can’t resist a smile looking at Knobble-bobble. Such a cheeky face; a sticky grin indeed. And who wouldn't be happy, living at Awaroa!
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