Chelsea Lokes

— Nurtured by nature

"My favourite days are spent in the New Zealand bush, trekking up a stream or climbing a mountain. At the end of those days, my mind is clearer and everything feels more simple." Looking away from the ocean onto a steep hill at Karekare.

I woke up this morning thinking, 'oh my god, it might be the last time I can enjoy the natural world as I know it.' A few discussions on global warming and some recent articles made me realize how late it is. While previously I thought drastic effects of climate change would happen after I'm dead, I now feel the opposite. It's all over. I'm living the last days.

It's not as apocalyptic as it sounds. I'm not more of an environmentalist than the average person. It's the feeling that it'll never be the same. I need to enjoy all that's remaining of the natural world today.

"I collected exposed clay from various places along the bank of the Te Auaunga Awa (Oakley Creek), a polluted creek, and threw 30 tumblers. Although there is wonderful progress being made to protect and restore the waterway, you can still see old tyres, metal, and rubbish dumped many years ago on the creekbed and amongst the greenery. The invisible influence these things must have on the site and the water interests me. I fired and glazed them all the same, yet each batch came out with different colours and textures."

In the past I would've been angry about how irresponsible the previous generations were in not being environmentally conscious, but now I realize that I'm part of a species that isn't driven by long term repercussions. It's not anyone's fault that we're a civilization that self-destructs--we can only live within the bounds of our abilities.

There are some indications that we have the potential to think longer term. To be considerate in being resourceful and to acknowledge our dependency on the planet. But culturally, the idea of dependency scares us.

A responsible adult is someone who isn't reliant on parents. A modern woman makes her own money without reliance on anyone, particularly a man. Success in modern culture is defined by how separate one is, how much you don't need anything from anyone.

"this is Tiritiri Matangi, home to some of New Zealand's special and protected species, such as Takahē, Kiwi and Tuatara."

Coming across Chelsea's work, I felt like I was relinquishing myself to the idea of dependence. Her photos acknowledge all that I'm reliant on. Fresh water, oxygen and plants not only provide life but also provide beauty and joy that is impossible to artificially manifest.

"I can't be in a hurry if I am outside. If I am going for a hike, I like to spend most of the day, that way I can be present and take the time to see everything. It is nice to have no phone service and to eat lunch at a rockpool or a mountain top away from everything else. Being too hasty would overshadow the simplicity of it."

Based in Auckland, Chelsea is surrounded by an abundance of nature. Her work springs from an appreciation for the planet.

"My favourite places are all in the Waitakere Ranges, a large regional park in West Auckland."

"I began actively learning pottery for my postgraduate work." Natural toned jugs.

A post shared by Chelsea Lokes (@chsealo) on

A 'civilized' pear drifting in the wild.

Is it so backwards to enjoy a more primitive lifestyle? Shouldn't the ability to cover more needs with less define 'better technology'? Are we really finding additional satisfaction or meaning in life with incremental 'progress'? I pondered these issues while browsing Chelsea's album.

Pottery on black sand

Many of Chelsea's images seem to have been taken while she was spending an entire day having fun outdoors. While I love the idea of spending time alone with nature, I've rarely done it. In the Pacific Northwest, I'm wary of bears and cougars. Recently I went hiking in Texas and saw more than a few snakes.

"We have no predators here which is why I feel comfortable going for hikes by myself. I don't think twice before walking through long grass, exploring a cave or rainforest. Many visitors can't comprehend how normal it is to be barefoot in New Zealand, I think this is why– we have only sharp things and bees to avoid."

Perhaps one of the best places to feel comfortably connected to nature is in Auckland. Better make a visit before things change for good.

See more of Chelsea's art and ceramics at @chsealo.

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