I was determined to photograph the gargoyles that guard the Notre Dame cathedral in the heart of Paris. My first attempt failed when the guard said no more visitors for the day. My second attempt failed because the guards went on strike! This photo was taken on my third attempt to see these stone-monster marvels! Some of the gargoyles laugh, one spits, others look bored, feed on prey or they grimace. Standing stoic and proud, these mythical birds and hybrid beasts are eerie witnesses to history. Catching a personal glimpse of these silent grotesque creatures was one of the highlights of my visit to Paris, and well worth the 387 steps climb to the top when the cathedral is restored and opens to the public again. This one is actually a Grotesque. Gargoyles are the ones that spout water from the roof. These awesome creatures were added during the reconstruction of the church in the 1840s. When the Nazis invaded the country during World War II, the gargoyles stood strong, withstanding a four-day German siege on the church. This print was awarded Bronze medal at the NZIPP Iris Awards!
located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, The Dome of the Rock is one of the three holiest Islamic shrines in the world. It was initially built in 691 on the site of the Second Jewish Temple and destroyed during the Roman Siege of Jerusalem. The original dome collapsed in 1015 and was rebuilt in 1023. Being one of Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to belief, the rock inside the mosque is the spot from which the Islamic prophet Muhammad ascended to Heaven accompanied by the angel Gabriel. Usually packed with tourists and locals, I was the only one to visit the site early morning when the forecast was for snow. It was so cold that there was no one on site and I could get a beautiful reflection off the wet marble stones just before the storm.
The Janie Seddon was built in 1901 in Glasgow, Scotland for the Government as a submarine mining vessel, and spent its early life in Wellington working for the Royal New Zealand Navy. She was used in port during both world wars and was the Examination Vessel during WWII. According to some reports, it is credited with firing the first shots of World War II, a warning shot across the bow when the liner “City of Delhi” would not stop on request on September 3, 1939. It was the last surviving military ship to have served in both world wars – rumour has it she even fired the first shot in WW2.
When her military days came to an end, Janie was purchased in 1947 by the local Talley’s fishing group as a fishing trawler, the first in their fleet. It was sold as a fishing vessel to the Motueka Trawling Company and worked in Motueka as a very useful coal-fired steam trawler. As a coal-powered ship, she proved unsuitable as a fishing vessel and her size prevented her from operating in the coastal waters of Tasman Bay.
When she was retired from fishing, in 1950, the Janie Seddon was laid up on the Motueka Wharf. It was anchored next to the sandspit for protection. Unfortunately, when the tide went out, she sat on her anchor and it holed her hull. She filled with water and stayed there until a scrap metal dealer decided to try a salvage. At low tide, the Janie Seddon was dragged by bulldozer across the estuary to the site where she sits now. The scrap metal dealer planned to cut her up into pieces for sale but he went broke trying to do that! The Janie Seddon is made of very strong corten steel and all dealer’s tools broke down! After sinking at her moorings a few years later she was stripped of anything of use and left to the elements. The rust made the holes along with the scrap metal dealer’s attempts to cut her up.
Muriwai gannet colony is about an hour drive from Auckland. A short walking track from the car park leads to two viewing platforms which are located above the colony nesting site. The colony continues on two steep islands out to sea. Around 1,500 pairs of gannets nest there during August to March every year. The hundreds of nests are just very slightly apart and the stink is sharp. It’s a feast to the eyes (or an air-traffic controller’s nightmare), but the birds have it under control somehow. The birds descending to land must glide over their neighbours squawking raised beaks, so getting it wrong can be extremely painful for all involved. These 2 ½ Kilogram heavy birds have a wingspan of almost two metres, and their mastery of the onshore updrafts is an understatement impressive to say the least. Each pair of gannets lays one egg and the parents take turns on keeping the nest safe. The chicks hatch completely naked and within a week they’re covered with a fluffy gray down. As they mature, they grow juvenile light feathers and begin to exercise moving their wings in preparation for a one-shot jump off the cliff and into the ocean. Once airborne, the young gannets leave the colony and cross the Tasman Sea all the way to Australia, across the ditch. A few years later, the surviving birds return to secure a nest site at the colony. The gannets return from Australia between July to October each year and connect again with their lifelong companions. The new chicks strive for food in December and their parents dive into the sea at up-to 150 kilometres per hour to feed their young birds. The colony becomes abandoned from late autumn to early winter: May to June. The views from the colony are totally breathtaking. Muriwai Beach extends a further sixty kilometres to the north with a line of black sand visibly between the thundering white surf and the cascading sandy hills. Far below, enthusiastic and bold surfers look like seals on the giant ocean swells.
True facts about the gannets
- The gannets predominantly feed on small fish such as baby squid, pilchards, yellow eyed mullet and anchovy.
- The gannets lay a single egg around September, October or November
- Incubation time is around forty four days
- Chicks will stay in the colony until February to March and leave when they are around four months old.
- After weeks of furious and extensive flapping their wings on land, the first flight of the juvenile birds takes them more than 2,000 kilometres away to their destination!
- Wingspan up to 180 cm (6 ft)
- Overall length 90 cm
- The birds then migrate to Australia and return after three to seven years
- Gannets feed by diving from high up into a school of fish near the surface of the water at speeds of almost 150 kph. Just before hitting the water, they hold their wings out straight and bend them so they’re pointed completely backwards so they don’t get injured when hitting the water at high speeds. They also take a large gulp of air, which fills the air sacs located in their neck and chest, providing cushioning just like an airbag in a car during impact.
- Gannets live to around thirty years old
Trigger Warning: Discussion of physical & emotional abuse.
This comes as a surprise to some people (sometimes I reflect back in total disbelief – it’s easy to think it wouldn’t happen to you) but this time 5 years ago I was trying to leave an abusive relationship. Over the space of 12 months I had made multiple attempts to leave. I couldn’t tell you why I’d go back each time, only that the general belief, held by all parties was that it was all I deserved.
How did I end up there? I was an intelligent, strong willed young woman who had very clear views about domestic abuse & those who inflict it. But, although I didn’t really acknowledge it, I was, at that point in my life very alone. I had few close friends, and this was complimented by a distant relationship with my family & not much in the way of self-worth.
I was so desperate to be loved, to be chosen, that I ignored the early red flags (I called myself difficult & needy instead). He charmed me – nice dinners, a holiday, buying me clothes etc. But when he moved in with me, things started to slip, slowly at first.
I remember the first time we really fought. A neighbour called the cops. He played nice to them & angrily blamed me for it later. If I had only not gotten upset, he wouldn’t have gotten angry at me. I cringe now when I think of how I grovelled & apologised to him.
Every fight we had would cripple me with shame & self-hatred. I was reading every article I could on healthy relating. I went to therapy to try and isolate the problem in myself so I could cut it out & patch myself back together. I thought if I could fix myself, he would stop getting angry with me. If I could just stop being difficult, he’d stop cutting me off, refusing to talk to me for days at a time or kicking me out at all hours of the morning.
But you can’t fix a relationship by yourself, and you can’t heal yourself in order to stop someone else hurting you.
It took him two years to hit me. The first thing he did after he whacked me was tell me it was a mistake & to not tell anyone. And I didn’t, not for months. Not until well after I finally got out.
He only hit me once. I wish I could say that that was because I left, but it was because he seemed to prefer other tactics – dragging me over furniture to kick me out, holding me against the wall by my throat, once he even picked me up and physically threw me onto the concrete outside, amongst other things.
I list all these physical things, but in honesty, those things were secondary to the verbal & emotional abuse & the scars it left.
I still experience emotional flashbacks, triggered by any number of things – some identified, some which take me by surprise – in which it’s as if I shift into a dual existence, with the memories & emotions overlaying reality like a double exposure photograph, and my mind will react to the Now as if it was the Then. It’s exhausting & confusing and sometimes lasts for hours.
I still get panicky if someone misunderstands me and sometimes if people react in a neutral, emotionless manner (especially in a romantic relationship) my reflex response is fear. Its frustrating & difficult, I often feel sorry for those who have had to deal with me in my darkest moments.
I wish I could be more upbeat about it all, and say I’m now a happy, confident woman with a loving husband & a house full of animals but recovering from these kinds of things is a long & difficult road. In saying that I’m slowly healing. I’m in therapy &n the progress I’m making, uneven as it is, is leading me into a world where I can be vulnerable with others, feel safe expressing myself & enjoy authentic connections with a selection of truly wonderful friends.
I also have a career as a personal trainer & pole dance teacher. I love my work and am hugely passionate about creating a safe space for others to get in touch with their bodies, express themselves & explore their physical potential – all things I found immense value in as I was putting myself back together.
I don’t have any advice for those affected by abuse that isn’t talked about more articulately elsewhere. Removing yourself from abusive dynamics is never as simple as it might seem from the outside, and it follows that advice that works for one person won’t work for another. All I can say is – try to hold onto your Self, in whatever capacity you can & when you are ready to make the move, you will know. The road out is tough, but every step is worth it.
Nude female figures can be found represented in art as early as the last Stone Age period. Similar images which represent fertility deities, gods and goddesses in Babylonian and Ancient Egyptian art were precursors to the works of Western antiquity. Other notable traditions of artistic nude representations can be found in India and Japan: in particular, traditional Hindu temple sculptures and cave paintings – some very explicit – indicate the value of sexuality; revealing a culture where partial or complete nudity was acceptable in everyday life.
The nude figure was commonplace in Ancient Greek and Roman art. After a semi-dormant period in the Middle Ages, it returned to a central position in Western art during the Renaissance. Athletes, dancers, and warriors statically express human energy and life, while nudes express basic and complex emotions.
Nude photography is a genre of fine-art which depicts the human body with an emphasis on form, composition, emotional content and aesthetic qualities. The nude has been a prominent subject of photography since its invention and played an important role in establishing photography as a fine art medium.
Erotic interest, although often present, is secondary. It distinguishes art photography from both glamour and pornographic photography. The distinction is not always clear and photographers tend to characterise their own work subjectively, while viewers may have different impressions. The nude is a controversial and provocative subject across all artistic mediums, but more so within photography due to the inherent realism. The medium examines issues of representation and identity, sexuality and voyeurism – some nude photography deliberately blurs the boundaries between erotica and art.
In the context of the 21st century, it is difficult to make an artistic statement in the medium of nude photography, given the proliferation of pornographic imagery – which has tainted the artistic subject in the perception of most viewers, limiting the opportunities to exhibit or publish artistic nude images. These photographs portray powerful, vulnerable and independent women.
In one of my visits to the Takapuna Sunday market I was chatting to a woman who was selling life-size wooden bulldogs. I made a smart comment about people who purchase wooden dogs and she said that she owns a real one. A week later she visited my studio together with her daughter. Being so heavy, the dog would not climb and kept drooling so they both made a huge effort to lift him off the floor and onto the armchair. The image sat in my collection until I trespassed into this fire damaged house in Sunnynook!
Entrance / Foyer wall 1
Entrance, wall 2
Stairwell – Top level
Lounge, above fireplace
Top of staircase landing
Dining room – horizontal layout