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DAMON MEADE: SCENE REPORT FROM THE EASTERN FRINGES

Damon Meade is a landscape photographer, film maker and time lapse artist.  A graduate of the Fine Arts programme at Massey University, he’s managed to crack that seemingly elusive formula for many creatives and has been self-employed as a full-time creative since 2004.

Damon happily claims his home and his whenua, Tūranganui-a-kiwa, as the best place in the world, and the images he’s been creating and sharing over the past fifteen years or so certainly make a compelling case for that claim. It could be said that through his photography and his often lyrical written accompaniments, Damon Meade is one of the region’s most avid and far-reaching proponents of this place.

Damon started out his photography career standing on the beach, where he spent a good few years sighting his lens in on many of the country’s best surfers.  Even then, his gaze often wandered to bring the wider geographical context into shot. An appreciative eye and attention to sense of place are noticeable trademarks of his work.

In the early years of his career Damon produced the surf films Wolfskinz (2007), Under The Weather (2013) and a number of short surf films including The Beaten Track (2015). He describes this as an inspired period and is proud of the lasting snapshot he captured; of what some epic local surfers were getting up to, and some of the remoter parts of the country, at a particular moment in time.

There came a point however, at which Damon was ready to get off the beach and try something different. He had been playing around with photography and low-fi time-lapse photography and it was to these mediums that he turned his focus. 

As for the subject matter, he was heading for the stars.

After a few years of experimenting with time-lapse photography Damon discovered how much he enjoyed the challenge of lining up celestial elements with familiar features in the landscape. Using this as his starting point, Damon has created a body of work that depicts our landscape in a way that hasn’t been done before.

Many of Damon’s photographs and time-lapses are months in the planning, and certain shots he will return to, year upon year, with one eye on the astronomical calendar and the other on the weather forecast. 

Each mission yields new insights into the character of the landscape and so the intimate knowledge he has of this place he knows and loves continues to grow, as does the internal running catalogue of shots he’d like to capture in the future. “It keeps me fit and keeps me honest” he reckons.

Damon’s creative perspective is far from limited to that which he captures through his camera lens. Often an artist will leave the picture to tell the story, but Damon isn’t afraid of adding subtext to the “thousand words” already told by his photographs, usually in the form of some kind of back story or commentary as to what is going on behind the mesmerising beauty of the photograph.  

When deep sea drilling was on the cards for the government in the early 2000’s Damon was unafraid to spoil his sublime surf footage with talk of what was going on within those very scenes, ‘Drilling ship arrives in Raglan area 10 days from now’, ‘It needs to stop’.

As he captures our landscape from manifold angles, so too does he speak for it, from the state of our waterways, the impacts of forestry slash or the effect that the Space X Satellites are having and will continue to have on our night skies. There is an element of prescience in Damon’s work, by which we are called to recognise what we have in this moment, knowing that nothing ever stays the same, particularly when human beings are in the mix.

Through Damon’s lens a chilly summer morning is ‘unseasonably gruff’, a cyclone ‘chews its path along our coastline’ and even the wait on some decent surf offers opportunity for philosophical observation and a lyrical one at that, ‘a ruffled wind- ocean patiently awaits the arrival of fresh new swell.’ 

Most recently Damon has tasked himself with the mammoth job of pulling the various strands of his work together in one place; an online print store where a selection of his best prints are being sold. The more labour-intensive astro-panoramas are available for purchase as limited print runs, alongside an open collection of prints.  

Time-lapse video, drone footage, astro-panoramas – the various components of his work all bounce off each other, they are from the same journey. Sometimes a time-lapse frame will become a wall print. Drone footage is accompanied by a still photograph from the same flight. 

Through many kilometres trekked around the bare hills and rocky coastlines of the Tairāwhiti, hours upon hours of checking the weather and keeping tabs on the stars, and a philosophical outlook on his work and our changing world, Damon Meade is compiling a stunning showcase of our region, which we think is well worth checking out. 

Epic work Damon Meade. 

You can check out Damon’s print store here Damonmeade.com

And for examples of Damon’s time-lapse work check these out:

Shorelight – A Time lapse compilation of the Gisborne East Coast
In Our Corner
Tuahine Point Lighthouse Under The Stars
Uawa Moon Rise

THE LAST OF LOCKDOWN

These photographs and sound bite taken by Tom Teutenberg on his rambles around Titirangi, Kaiti and Waikanae embody the pervasive stillness of these past five weeks. They acknowledge the loneliness and isolation of people who have been doing this time alone or in difficult situations. And despite being taken in this safe haven of ours, they also convey a sense of the gravity of what it is we are all working together to avoid.

Images X Tom Teutenberg

MY NEIGHBOURHOOD IN ISO #2

My neighbourhood has come alive these past couple of weeks.

The roads are busy with humans and happy dogs. People pause to look at things that catch their eye and to chat with their fellow walkers and bikers, and people out in their gardens. All at a safe and respectful distance, which has so quickly become our new norm. I’m proud of our neighbourhood for that overly-cautious distance, often spanning the width of the road, but I’m perhaps even more proud of the stopping and talking and getting to know each other – it’s one of the most important things that will come out of this all, I think.

I have noticed this new openness amongst us.  We’re openly joyful and appreciative of the opportunity to connect with each other – it’s as if we have remembered how much we need each other.

Our family sent out a letter to the other residents of our road at the beginning of the lock down. None of our neighbours said they needed any help, but over the last few days emails have been going back and forth and we’re getting to know all sorts of things about each other. I had thought we were a pretty connected street before, but I realise now that we’d only just begun.

Everywhere in our neighbourhood there’s evidence of people getting stuck into their Things to Do lists: People stacking firewood, pruning trees, weeding, people just being outside, because they know they need it for their own sanity.

Everywhere, there are teddy bears and other small creatures peeking out through windows. They are signs of our unity, our kindness and encouragement towards each other. Some are holding bottles of wine and signs, one down our road has a giant pumpkin as its princely bed.

Without all the cars, you can hear the leaves, starting to crackle and colour up, rustle in the wind. You could probably almost hear them land on the ground if you tried. You can even hear the distant roar of the ocean some days, even though there’s a hill between us.

A few days ago I met my favourite bird for the first time ever; a bird whose song I have listened to my whole life, but whom I have never ever managed to catch sight of, no matter how hard and often I have looked. A few days ago I opened our front door and there it was – a Riroriro, or Grey Warbler, singing its song so nonchalantly, as if it didn’t even know it’s the most abiding sound track to my life.

It was one of those moments I tell myself I’ll never forget, just as it feels as if none of us will surely forget this extraordinary moment in time – confined as we are to our homes, our bubbles, our neighbourhood, and the reaches of our own minds.

I’m not sure whether my memories of this time will sustain or not, filled as it is with the simplest of things. The rustling leaves, the smiling conversations across our street, watching the kids try out new tricks on their bikes and the rope we’ve slung up in a tree, if we’ve managed to get them both out of their pyjamas and the house that is..usually by lunchtime, but not always.

Whether I remember this time, or not, right now I am so grateful that this neighbourhood is my home, and the people in it, my neighbours.

Words & Images by Sarah Cleave.

THE HIGHS AND LOWS OF LOWE

Our most recent addition to the Gizzy Local crew, photographer Tink Lockett, takes us on a leisurely wander along a street she describes as ‘the K Road of Gisborne’.

Lowe Street has always held a special place in Tink’s heart, and still conjures up all sorts of memories from over the years and the evolving streetscape. It has often been home to the quirkier, small and independent genre of shop in Gisborne, and gets its Karangahape Road feels from the tattoo parlours, the sex toy shop, the bars, restaurants and vintage shops that have come and gone over the years..

These days there’s probably not much call for mooching down the industrial end of Lowe on foot, but all those wide empty footpaths must be good for something! The mid-section of Lowe is currently best avoided if one is hoping to retain any sense of pride in their city (a hot spot for dystopic music video shoots perhaps?) thank goodness for the Sea Walls murals!  

To the contrary, the river end of Lowe is doing a great job of living up to its indie vibe at the moment with a great little collection of diverse shops, some of which surely could only ever be found on Lowe Street.

imgs x Tink Lockett | @uniquelytinkphotography – check her work out on instagram or facebook
words x Sarah Cleave

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