I’ve long thought that the park, with it’s long, sloping green lawn interspersed with pohutakawa and eucalyptus trees, had distinct English pastoral possibilities. If Capability Brown had had access to pohutakawa he would have planted in them. They are the perfect representation of 19th century New Zealand’s complicated relationship with identity. For 11 months of the year they are elegant faux English oak trees, and then for one month of the year they break out in flaming red SOUTH PACIFIC WONDERLAND! colours. This is pretty much how New Zealand was for a good century: torn between being more English than the English, immensely proud of not being English and their new national culture, and not sure what to do with the Polynesian culture they were living side by side with.
In any case, the pohutakawa lawn was perfect for a hoopskirt photoshoot – or would be, when the light cooperates, which it didn’t for us. On a good afternoon at three pm the light streams down the meadow, and lights it up in a golden glow. This time, a low overcast stopped the light and it was all rather grey and glaring.
At least the weather cooperated. When Madame O and I did the pet shoot (that sounds dreadful!) Wellington was in the midst of a months-long drought, and everything was sere and brown. This time, thanks to a royalty induced month of downpours (Wellington’s weather gods clearly have Republican (in the British sense) tendencies, as we had brilliant weather until the day the royals arrived, crap weather for their entire visit here, and their visit in Australia (just in case they had any ideas about coming back over the ditch) and have had rather brilliant (for late autumn) weather ever since they finally left) the grass was lush and green and thick. And occasionally muddy in places, much to the detriment of our hems.
The park and the light revealed distinct differences in my and Theresa’s modeling and photography styles. She skipped across the lawn, hoops bouncing with every step, and sauntered towards me, chin up, grinning, while I snapped vivid-coloured, close up glamour shots:
I, on the other hand, wandered around the lawn, face averted, or eyes turned down, pensively wistful, while Theresa captured gloomy, atmospheric, emotional, long-range images.
She called the images of me ‘very BrontÃ« sisters’, and her’s are very ‘Gone with the Wind!’
In poor light, the gloomy, atmospheric shots were more effective, (and my outfit made more sense on the lawn!) but there was one major problem with the location. Here is Theresa photographing me:
And here is the photograph she got:
Yep. The best tree arrangements in the park are right next to the major road going from Wellington airport into the city centre. We were quite exposed to the curious gaze of passing motorists. There was a great deal of tooting.
It was fun in some ways (here is Theresa waving to her audience), but I’m afraid my inner Fanny Price rather shrank from the notice of the public.
And we did attract the notice of the public: one car of dissolute young men took the opportunity presented by speed and anonymity to yell derogatory insults of the specifically aimed at women variety at us (stay classy Wellington). This was balanced by the delight we brought to small children when rush hour kicked in, and they got to plaster their faces against the car windows in and watch us rapt joy while the cars crawled past the park. The former was a sad inditement on society, but the latter more than made up for it!