To the base of the mountain in the center of my heart, Wesley John Fourie

Last week I embarked on a road trip across Te Wahipounamu,the South Island of Aotearoa New Zealand. This road trip was scheduled for months ago, long before Covid-19 and the damage it has left across our earth, so it was an exciting prospect to be able to realize now. As someone who works in tourism, I want the industry to work, and I am well aware that due to the isolated nature of our country, and our strict border security for the foreseeable future, that the industry is in danger. It was with this in mind that I set off across the country to Aoraki Mount Cook, the countries tallest mountain, held sacred amongst the indigenous Maori, considered an ancestor of the South Island’s largest tribe, Ngai Tahu, it is revered across the country, and within the collective consciousness. It is also the inspiration behind quite a few of my most recent projects, namely Aoraki (3724m of finger knitting), first presented in Japan, and an embroidery, yet to be named, which I completed sitting at the base of the mountain, on this trip.

My regular life finds me for extended periods of time in extreme isolation, removed for extended periods from wifi and cell phones, and completely alone and surrounded by nature. This element of my job has come to be an important element of my spiritual practice, regularly isolating myself in nature and practicing what most would consider animism, praying to the mountains that surround me, so it was a particularly special practice to do this in front of, and in the shadow of Aoraki (Mount Cook). For three days, I walked within Aoraki Mount Cook National Park, through river valleys, beneath the face of glaciers, and the whole time surrounded by the mammoth scale mountains that dominate the Southern Alps of Aotearoa New Zealand.

This trip was also special as it allowed me time to process some very bizarre circumstances in my personal life, which I will leave out of this post due to the nature of them not being only my experience, but through this short but satisfactory period of isolation in nature, I really worked through the emotions that beforehand were plaguing me.

Looking across Lake Tasman
Up the Hooker Valley
Where I sat for six hours, and completed the embroidery that I have been working on for the past six weeks.
Aoraki Mount Cook from across Hooker Lake
Portrait of Aoraki looking across from Lake Pukaki
  1. Liza Ordinartceva

    The views are truely breathtaking, but it seems quite cold, how did you manage to sit there and embroider for 6 hours?

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    Wesley John Fourie

    Hey there, thanks for your comment!
    Yes, it was super beautiful!
    And also yes, it was incredibly cold! I have a pretty good collection of hiking gear and thermals ( I work on a hiking track ), which I utilized whilst doing the embroidery.
    However I was quite lucky, as this little lake was well sheltered from the wind 🙂

    1. Liza Ordinartceva

      Thank you! Well, I can imagine actively walking in thermals in such conditions, but staying in one spot and doing an embroidery with bare hands sounds superhuman to me! Congrats on the result!

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        Wesley John Fourie

        Haha yes, I suppose it does seem a little abstract to sit in the cold for extended periods of time, but it was very therapeutic.

  3. Cynthia

    Amazing Wesley..What a journey! I could feel the mountains and the solitude in these photos and your account of those days. Very special…knowing a bit of the history behind the trip was very helpful to me. thank you

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      Wesley John Fourie

      Hi Cynthia,
      Thanks for your comment!
      Yes, it was a super special experience, and such a blessing I was able to actualise it as the country slowly reopens.

  4. Nena Nastasiya

    Hi Wesley,

    I could feel myself following your trip with all those wonderful mountains. I kind of feel your thoughts since I do quite a lot of time surrounding myself with nature through a bicycle trip. I found it’s quite important to create a time like this in our day to day life.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

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    Anastasia Patsey

    Dear Wes,
    That’s an amazing story and an amazing work. I remember seeing it half-way ready (it was the one you’ve posted here, right?). Should have been a strong meditative experience.

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    Crystal Marshall

    So impressive and talented. The work truly evokes the photographic scenes all in one. Makes me want to take a trip. Thanks for sharing.

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