When words aren’t enough

Im­ages car­ried back from Antarc­tica in Sue We­ter­ings’ cam­era and in her heart are go­ing on the walls of an art gallery. talked to her about the ad­ven­ture of a life­time.

The Southland Times - - FEATURES -

Wak­ing up to a wall of ice inches from her win­dow is some­thing that Sue We­ter­ings can’t quite put into words.

But she can put what she felt into an im­age.

A trip to Antarc­tica on the Na­tional Geo­graphic Ex­plorer is one of the most ex­tra­or­di­nary things she has ever done and com­mu­ni­cat­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence through her pho­tog­ra­phy was ‘‘a real chal­lenge’’.

Tow­er­ing walls of ice with light slic­ing through, the fluke of a whale, the open-eyed stare of a leop­ard seal – We­ter­ings dis­cov­ered a world with so many dif­fer­ing shades of white and blue that it took a while for her eyes to ad­just.

But when they did, what she saw was ‘‘un­be­liev­able’’, but at the same time she had to face some hard truths.

‘‘It’s so frag­ile there with cli­mate change – the whole bal­ance with the warm­ing wa­ters and wildlife hav­ing to move their habi­tat. It is just so ev­i­dent when you go there and see it. This planet is some­thing amaz­ing and it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity to look af­ter it.’’

Her im­ages are go­ing on the walls of Tay­lor Jensen Fine Arts Gallery in Palmer­ston North.

It will be the first time We­ter­ings’ pho­tos have been in an ex­hi­bi­tion and she hopes they will say some­thing to the peo­ple who stand in front of them.

‘‘Antarc­tica is so in­cred­i­bly awe­some.

‘‘My goal with the ex­hi­bi­tion is to show peo­ple a lit­tle of what it felt like to be there and just that this planet is in­cred­i­ble and in need of our help.’’

The boat left from Ar­gentina, trav­elled across the Drake pas­sage and then down the Antarctic Penin­sula.

The weather was so good they went beyond 60 de­grees south, sail­ing through the night and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing new icescapes daily.

‘‘Some days we would be cruis­ing around ice­bergs on zo­di­acs and other days we’d be walk­ing up glaciers.’’

One day, their zo­diac made tiny in the shad­ows of giant ice sheets, came across a leop­ard seal.

We­ter­ings had be­come in­ter­ested in the crea­tures be­fore her trip.

She was in­trigued by the ob­ser­va­tions of wildlife pho­tog­ra­pher Paul Nicklen, who by spend­ing time with leop­ard seals found out that the crea­tures, no­to­ri­ous for be­ing ag­gres­sive, could also be ex­tremely cu­ri­ous.

‘‘He had this in­cred­i­ble en­counter with this leop­ard seal. He was div­ing and for days this seal had been cu­ri­ous about him and she would bring him a seal to eat and at one stage she thought there was some­thing wrong with him and she put a fur seal on top of his head. She just played with him.’’

On Nicklen’s last day of work­ing with the an­i­mals, the leop­ard seal from his ear­lier friendly en­coun­ters sud­denly came straight at him and he thought that was it, it was all over.

But ac­tu­ally, there was an­other seal be­hind him be­ing ag­gres­sive and she was pro­tect­ing him.

So, it was a spe­cial mo­ment for We­ter­ings as a fe­male leop­ard seal glided to­wards their boat.

‘‘We had spot­ted her and wanted her to come to­wards us, so we had started singing the Paul Si­mon song Cecilia.’’

We­ter­ings took a lot of pho­tos that day and some have made their way into the ex­hi­bi­tion and books that she has pro­duced.

A big part of why We­ter­ings takes pho­tos is to give some­thing to peo­ple – a feel­ing of place, or time, a sense of won­der or just a mo­ment of es­cape.

We­ter­ings trav­els a lot. Her pho­tos track her foot­steps through South Amer­ica, Ti­bet, Canada, Namibia and Africa.

It isn’t big cities she is cap­tur­ing. It’s the chang­ing earth, the light at the other side of the world, the colours of some­one else’s re­al­ity and a sense of place.

And an­i­mals are al­ways a fo­cus wher­ever she goes.

‘‘I love the whole nat­u­ral his­tory side of things. The land­scapes, wildlife and fauna.

‘‘For me, it’s part of my life jour­ney of de­vel­op­ing your own po­ten­tial and be­ing able to ex­plore dif­fer­ent parts of the world and meet all sorts of peo­ple. And then the pho­tos be­come part of a con­ver­sa­tion that you can share with peo­ple.’’

Myan­mar will be the next stamp in her pass­port and We­ter­ings hopes there will be a re­turn to Antarc­tica.

It’s a place so over­whelm­ingly im­pos­si­ble to ex­plain that she turned to the things she knows – her cam­era, her eyes and her abil­ity to turn what she feels into an im­age that speaks.


Palmer­ston North pho­tog­ra­pher Sue We­ter­ings in Antarc­tica.

The scenery that pho­tog­ra­pher Sue We­ter­ings saw while she was in Antarc­tica of­ten took her breath away.

The ef­fects cli­mate change is hav­ing on the en­vi­ron­ment was not­i­ca­ble.

A close en­counter with a leop­ard seal while in Antarc­tica.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from New Zealand

© PressReader. All rights reserved.