I'm also a member of Wall to Wall Art - a collective of a dozen local Nelson artists.

New home, new name

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.

A Drop in the Ocean

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.

Background

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.

Photo mix

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.

Solo exhibition

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! 

Do you see what I see?

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 contemplation of coastal images

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.

Seeing Things exhibition 

The images & the ideas you shared - thank-you!:

(Though I'm not convinced some of the stickies didn't move in the night-time!)

Photograph 1. Baby bird biding its time

1. Baby bird biding its 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:

  • Wasn’t me
  • Monkey crossed with a sloth
  • A little Pomeranian dog
  • Sloth
  • Long-legged frog on a rock
  • Big-eyed furry flopsy
  • Kakapo
  • Seal
  • Peter Rabbit
  • Chipmunk
  • Sloth face
  • Beaver
  • A seal lying on its back
  • Monkey
Photograph 2. Disguised as a stick

2. Disguised as a stick

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Tiny mammoth
  • Pinocchio
  • A sneetch from Dr Seuss
  • Snuffleupagus (aka Snuffalufagus)
  • Mammoth
  • Woodpecker
  • Baby mammoth
  • Woolly mammoth
  • Gnome
Photograph 3. Perpetually drinking in the river

3. Perpetually drinking in the river

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Buffalo drinking
  • Praying mantis
  • Billy Goat Gruff
  • Super-slow sloth
  • A very thirsty goat
  • Animal that is scared of water so is putting one leg in at a time
  • Sheep
  • Bison drinking
  • A shy creature washing its hands
  • Something from The Dark Crystal
Photograph 4. Ugly duckling, beautiful swan

4. Ugly duckling, beautiful swan

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Swan with an eel for a head
  • Goose
  • Swan
  • Swan song - fossilised forever
  • Move or die
  • Fake swan
  • A good quacky Boi
Photograph 5. Hide & seek in the sand dunes

5. Hide & seek in the sand dunes

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • A mythical enabis
  • Girl with pigtails
  • Meerkat
  • Tiger shark
  • Duck with Donald Trump comb-over!
  • Sea pony
  • A cosy nook to bare all (except for the passing traffic! - Editor)
  • A lonely meerkat
Photograph 6. Being other worldly

6. Being other worldly

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • A fat duckling
  • Vulture
  • Sheepskin left out in the rain
  • A prehistoric camel trying to pull free of a tar pit
  • Baboon face
  • Jellyfish
  • A rock trying to hide in the sand

 

Photograph 7. Big, friendly giant on the hill

7. Big, friendly giant on the hill

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Hound dog
  • People falling asleep on rocks
  • Elephant
  • Chameleon
  • Dinosaur skeleton comes to life
  • Cave
  • Big elephant-like creature from Star Wars
Photograph 8. River gods

8. River gods

It’s tempting to envisage benign river gods watching over our waterways. Envisage no more. 

Alternative ideas included:

  • Elephant-nosed creatures
  • The Maitai
  • The Stoneman from the film Thor Ragnarok
  • Mossy Dolmen
  • Faces
  • Native woman on the right
  • Five faces looking at me
Photograph 9. Evolutionary etchings in the outback

9. Evolutionary etchings in the outback

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Kangaroo giraffe
  • Chalk white eagle
  • Prehistoric bird attacking dinosaur
  • A cave painting
Photograph 10. Jay bird on the rocks

10. Jay bird on the rocks

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Moth
  • Pony
  • Gandalf
  • Chimpanzee face
  • Poodle
  • Smiling orang-utan face
  • Man with beard sticking his tongue out
  • A winking chimpanzee emerging from sand
Photograph 11. The root of anthropomorphism

11. The root of anthropomorphism

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!

Alternative ideas included:

  • A spy camera
  • Grouper fish
  • Taniwha
  • A blob fish
  • Mum?? Is that you?!
  • A snake head
  • A very angry fish
  • Basilisk
  • Lurch
  • Fish
  • Gargoyle
  • The gatekeeper
  • “like a boiled sweet, little girl?”
  • Creepy gargoyle
  • Lord of the Rings monster
  • Grumpy fish man
Photograph 12. Kiwi icons in the Abel Tasman

12. Kiwi icons in the Abel Tasman

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Witch
  • Sleeping person
  • Osteoporosis, crumbling
  • Peter Pan
  • Corpse skeleton still with a bit of flesh
  • Person having trouble with an umbrella
  • Fox face
  • Penguin
Photograph 13. Ephemeral landscape

13. Ephemeral landscape

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Jupiter
  • Planet Alison
  • Saharan landscape
  • Rustic hobbit hole (woodshed?)
  • Winter forest
  • Mars
  • Kaleidoscope
  • The galaxy
  • Japanese winter forest
Photograph 14. Artery window

14. Artery window

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Shattered dream
  • Treble clef
  • Broken
  • A labour of love, lost & forgotten (except it's patently not forgotten :-) - Editor)
Photograph 15. The weatherings of time

15. The weatherings of time

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Tortoise
  • Boat, sails & sea
  • Eye-spy (sic) something in the shadows
  • Cats’ eyes
Photograph 16. House Parts de-parted

16. House Parts de-parted

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Private Parts
  • ‘Peeling’ Nelson-style
Photograph 17. Popping out for hay

17. Popping out for hay

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.

Alternative ideas included:

  • Horse head
  • A piece of jelly
  • Sap of a tree
  • Amber sea-horse
  • Tree sea-horse
  • Bulbous-nosed horse
Photograph 18. Knobble-bobble

18. Knobble-bobble

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!

Alternative ideas included:

  • Puffer fish
  • Spider eggs
  • Big-eyed sap monster
  • Sap of a tree
  • Fish eggs
  • Clown