Wonder-Lust

If you’re anything like me, travelling the world is rated very highly on your mental to-do list. I am endlessly amazed by the variety and beauty to be found in the landscape, culture and artworks of places I didn’t even know existed. The desire to see these things with my own eyes is immense. The term for this sensation is ‘wanderlust’ and it pretty accurately sums up what it represents. I’d like to share just a few people, places and phenomenon that have contributed to my personal sense of wonder at the beauty out there.

I have been lucky enough to travel a fair share in my young life. Just before my last trip, which was to London and Northern Europe in August of 2012, I was given a new camera by my wonderful parents: a Nikon P510. It’s no Canon 5D, but it afforded me hours of photographic fun while travelling around Scandinavia. My photos are by no means professional, but I would like to share the things I saw that interested me in my wanderings.

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Nyhavn, the historical channel in the centre of Copenhagen, Denmark

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A statue in the gardens of the great Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia

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Streetside artist in Tallinn, Estonia

I wasn’t able to travel far enough north to see the Northern Lights, which is something that I really regretted about my trip. In non-scientific terms, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis are caused by gas particles from the earth and electrically charged particles from the sun colliding in the earth’s atmosphere. The colour of the lights is determined by what gaseous particles are involved and how far from the earth’s surface the collision occurs.

Yeah, I’m not a science buff either, but it is interesting to know the reason behind the mysterious and beautiful phenomenon. I would have loved the opportunity to see and capture it for myself, but for the mean time at least, the spectacular photographs of Tommy Eliassen will have to do.

Tommy is a landscape and astro-photographer from Mo i Rana, Norway. He has the privilege of living and working on the doorstep of the Northern Lights. The majority of his photographs involve long-exposure, which means keeping the shutter of the camera open for an extended period of time, thus allowing light in that may not even be visible to the naked eye. The results are extraordinary. This technique is often used to capture constellations in the night sky, and in conjunction with the Aurora Borealis, the photographs that one can take really are breathtaking.

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Laksejford – Tommy Eliassen (taken in Lebesby, Norway)

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Hogtuva – Tommy Eliassen (taken in Melfjellet, Norway)

Aspiring travellers of the world come in all shapes and sizes, as has recently been proven by photographer, Andrew Whyte, and his Legographer. He has completed a 365-day project, in which he travelled the world and took images with a Lego photographer in the foreground. It sounds arbitrary, but the end product is unique and quirky, framing predictable tourist shots in a fresh light. Follow my lead and check out every shot the duo took on their travels here:

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Day of Rest – Andrew Whyte

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Splash! – Andrew Whyte

It can quite easily be noticed that my conception of wanderlust is almost exclusively linked with landscape and the natural world. South Africa has some of the most varied natural life on the planet, but as a South African, the idea of my country being as mysterious and exciting to others as, say, Japan is to me sometimes escapes me as being a reality. However, if Hougaard Malan’s photographs are anything to go by, it isn’t hard to understand why South Africa – and the Western Cape in particular – is such a desirable spot to visit. Cape Town was recently chosen as being the top tourist destination in Africa and top ten in the world. Perhaps this fun (and frankly, just awesome) music video shot in the beautiful Mother City will shed light on why:

If you’re more interested in the man-made or manipulated side of artistic photography, look out for my post next week. It’s going to be epic.

The Eco-Evolution

With the growing spotlight on global climate change, depleting resources and the need for renewable energy, many sectors of industry and society have had to shift their focus and rethink their approach to the radically changing standards of our planet. While many disregard global warming as a money-making scheme or myth, (and after the record low temperatures in Europe and North America earlier this year, who can blame them?) it cannot be ignored that finite energy and non-biodegradable matter are becoming a massive problem.

The words ‘reuse’, ‘reduce’ and ‘recycle’ are familiar to the majority of the westernised world in 2014. The importance of these issues has led to the institutionalisation of recycling even on a domestic scale, with there being heavy fines on the incorrect disposal of waste in many countries. There is no doubt that people have change the way they live and companies have to revolutionise the way they run. We have all begun to see Earth in a new light, and are understanding its need for protecting. In a creative twist to the growing global crisis, artists worldwide have come up with innovative and undeniably beautiful ways of recycling and renewing.

Sayaka Ganz, a sculptor from Yokohama, Japan, has responded to the eco-evolution in art by creating stunning, fluid sculptures of animals with used plastic waste. Ganz’s inspiration for these artworks stem from the Japanese Shinto philosophy that all things have a spirit, as well as sympathy for discarded objects. She aims to create living artwork with value because, as she explains, “if we value our resources, we will waste less”. Among other installations, she recently created an exhibit about marine animals and the fragile ecosystems that exist in the ocean. Take a look at her other work here

Sayaka Ganz - Uta

Sayaka Ganz – Uta

Speaking of the world below the depths, an interesting project spurring from the desire to protect the open water is underway by English artist, Jason DeCaires Taylor. Overfishing, oil spills and harmful waste in the ocean threaten the stability and sustainability of its wildlife and delicate ecosystems. Taylor is especially concerned with over-visited and destroyed coral reefs. In response, he began creating artificial reefs out of pH-suitable and stable materials that actually attract micro-organisms and ocean life. His reefs are comprised of hundreds of sculptures of human beings that, over time, become layered with coral and marine foliage. Taylor’s artificial reefs are both beautiful and an ingenious response to the ocean’s need for safe shelter and breeding-grounds. Click here to see how he is saving our fish.

Jason DeCaires Taylor - The Dream Collector

Jason DeCaires Taylor – The Dream Collector

Jason DeCaires Taylor - TamCC

Jason DeCaires Taylor – TamCC

This response to our struggling planet isn’t just happening abroad, however. South African artist, Mbongeni Buthelezi has created a name for himself both locally and internationally with his work. His reply to the waste crisis is what has been called, “painting with plastic”. He makes stunning, colourful “paintings” of predominantly township scenes, using non-biodegradable plastic as his medium. It is inspirational to see a South African taking initiative to make a change through his work, and perhaps we should all be doing the same.

Mbongeni Buthelezi - 30km/h Speed Humps

Mbongeni Buthelezi – 30km/h Speed Humps

Here’s a nifty way of getting started:

If you are an artist and interested in how you can help save the planet with your work, check out this article by Diana Moses Botkin. It explains twelve useful and easy tips on how to reduce your footprint and reuse materials in your eco-friendly masterpieces.