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Splore: Photo Essay

Alouis Woodhouse



Splore was something awesome alright. Around five thousand people descended on Tapapakanga Regional Park on the firth of Thames for a wicked event in a beautiful setting. It was a mixture of daytime fun and night time revelry. And the music, well… the music was fantastic. Talib Kweli throbbed incendiary New York hip-hop and had the crowd moving in unison. Hollie Smith was at once gentle and guttural, raw and soulful. The Little Bushmen were true, Warren Maxwell swayed at his keyboard and let forth bursts of song, both energetic and poignant. Fat Freddys were Fat Freddys. And Kora. Kora was it for me. They had this electric energy as they pulsed through varied musical styles. They were alive. I could barely open my eyes because I was so engaged in the music. I think the whole world was dancing when they played.
People danced and played at Splore. During the day they splashed around in the sea and the river, lay around under trees, played frisbee and hacky, wandered around the art installations and generally made the most of three glorious summer days. Graffiti artists bombed the cars of people who volunteered their metal canvases. Beautiful bodies moved sinuously to the music. A stilted praying mantis galloped around. Children played on an enormous wooden swing. At night time the audience adorned the hills and listened to the musicians, DJs, VJs, and performance artists. More thronged and danced in front of both the main stage and the DJ stage. Splore was a collection of people getting together and enjoying the New Zealand summer and enjoying themselves. It was tops. I left feeling festival sated and thoroughly exhausted.
The most remarkable part of Splore for me was seeing the ‘Vivid’ dance performance artists in their Neon light- suits. These four lighted figures came over the hill and spread themselves out in a line maybe twenty metres apart. They turned off their light suits and then one of them turned on and danced and threw his or her light to the next one in the line and then they danced and threw the light to the next one. They were neon dance ‘power rangers’ juggling light energy. It was an incredibly cool show and a
real highlight.
I had a great time. I made merry: dancing and swimming, climbing ancient pohutukawas and laying about. I walked the art trail. I met lots of people, many, I did not expect to see. I have tried to capture the spirit of Splore in my photographs. It was the first time I had played with a stills camera for about a year and I shot lots. I wish I had taken more rolls of film with me. But then again maybe I do not. Annie Dillard writes, “when I walk with a camera I walk from shot to shot, reading light on a calibrated meter. When I walk without a camera, my own shutter opens, and the moment’s light prints on my own silver gut.” Congratulations to the organisers and artists for putting on such a successful festival.