The combination of clear skies and no wind for several days provided an opportunity to visit my favorite alpine landscape to create new works. Philippa and I climbed up to the Cascade Saddle area in Mt Aspiring National Park and camped for two glorious starry nights.
Finding just the right snow-fed tarn late on the first afternoon, I went to work wading out to make a simple work by floating dry tussock stems. To avoid disturbing the water’s surface meant staying motionless while controlling both the sculpture and the camera.
The sun dipped below the ridge after a few minutes, throwing shadows across my efforts, but I had captured the moment when it all came together as I had planned. The south west ridge of Mt Aspiring beyond – the site of my personal climbing tragedy – draws the eye between the light of the west face down which John fell and the shadow of the south face, and is reflected in the still surface of the tarn. The warm sunlight brought the sculpture alive against the inky shadows of the water. This sublime scene reminds me how delicate and precious life is.
After a freezing night the dawn ushered in another perfect day. Finding remnant frozen snow patches provided the material for another fleeting sculpture. Once placed in the tarn the snow sculpture soon melted, but again I had caught its reflected form along with the high peaks. The image resonates with me about our changing climate and the world’s disappearing ice.
The rest of the day was spent exploring this delicate alpine world high above the Matukituki and Dart Valleys before climbing back up to the ridge above the Matukituki to camp and make a final sculpture from some of the many flat schist rocks.