Innerlight workshop 2010

Kia ora tatou:

For the last two years Jenny Couldrey and I have organised the Innerlight workshop at Lake Waikaremoana, deep in the Te Urewera National Park in the Central North Island of New Zealand. The workshop is aimed at helping the participants to move their photography forward into a new space by focusing (pun intended) on each person’s individual creative process and his/her response to the environment. Attendees then go away and prepare works for an exhibition to be held at Te Whare Toi in Rotorua.

This year’s exhibition opens on March 7.

Over the next couple of weeks I hope to publish some of their artist’s statements and images. I am sure they would welcome your thoughts and feedback.

Jan Maree Vodanovich is a professional wedding and portrait photographer from Auckland, who holds a BFA from Elam. Here are her thoughts:

I saw the ad for the workshop and felt like I had to be there.  I didn’t know who Tony was, I had never been on a workshop, I don’t do landscape…but it was to be held at Lake Waikaremoana in the Urewera National park, and I had heard of that – an old and spiritual place …

Being a Wedding and Portrait photographer I was full of misgiving on the drive down – what I would photograph if I had no people or animals?  I have always found landscape difficult in that I could never do it justice.

Waikaremoana to me is a deep and lonely, beautiful place in the middle of nowhere.  The day we arrived I spent hours sitting on a rock monolith that rose out from the depths of the lake, immersed in my own company, enjoying the peace and quiet. The whole week was one of reflection.  Every morning we were out before dawn, and every dawn was different.

I spent a lot of time just sitting quietly, absorbing my surroundings, a process suggested by Tony, before shooting.  I found myself looking at colour in a new and abstract way, especially in water; and at symbols, details and patterns in the rock formations, water and shadows.

Generally I love the bush, trees and ocean, but at Waikaremoana I found myself trying to cut the trees out of my photos.  Here these huge old trees seemed too young and transitory.  My interest was in the very foundation of the earth, the solidness and ancientness and stability. I found countless faces in the rock, some of them screaming at me. Those faces and a chance predawn encounter with a stag led me to a personal revelation – the need to take the courage to follow my path.  Eventually I felt at peace here.

The last morning I visited ‘my’ monolith that I had spent so much time with but the rain and wind was wild and the peaceful lake water had transformed into a heaving sea with waves crashing where I had sat.  It was amazing.

Choosing five images out of thousands for this book was almost impossible.  I love the angel that I see in the foaming water of the river, and the woman holding the sun at dawn, the beautiful blue grey dancing figure, and the whole spectrum of colours in Crystal Lake, but my week was about balance and Te Ao Marama – me and my family, work and art, heart and mind, conscious and subconscious …

I met some really special people at Lake Waikaremoana and one of them was me.

Jan Maree Vodanovich

3 Responses

  1. Jenny says:

    Amazing Jan Maree – you voice it so well. May you continue to love and enjoy that person you met down there. The photos you’ve shared are awesome. Arohanui

  2. Jan Maree says:

    Thank you Tony, Jenny and the rest of our group, for creating an environment and offering the support and friendship where such a beautiful experience was possible. I love you guys.

  3. Sam SHC says:

    Hello Jan Maree – It was very good to have met you (and other) at the workshop. I read your statement with great interest. Some of your experience applied to me as well, for example, staying quietly in the environment and let yourself absorbed into the surroundings. Then, something will happen. Lake Waikaremoana is indeed a special, spiritual place. Best wishes.

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