Summer memories: The soap bubble artisan

Last updated 05:00 26/01/2013
BUS STOP BUBBLES: Wellington's Alan McKay.

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I remember those long warm Wellington evenings (well, not cold, at any rate) with relaxed public events where people were more inclined to linger and stay out late, and strangers could find sightseeing and leisure activities in common to talk about.

My friend and I had just come from the ASB Gardens Magic, a lighting display in the Botanic Gardens, where we had fallen in to conversation with another avid photographer.

Having been escorted out by the security guards, who were trying to close the Gardens, we all spent an hour or so trying to say goodbye and part ways just outside the gates. While the security guards were rounding up the stragglers, our new friend told us of the soap-bubble artisan, Alan McKay, that he had hoped to see performing that night.

Shortly afterwards, Alan himself wheeled his bicycle out through the gates and we enthusiastically called him over. He was quite happy to take his equipment out of a large rucksack and make some large bubbles for us in the shelter of the historic bus stop nearby for the express purpose of photographing the patterns on the bubble surface.

All the while he told us the science and technology of soap bubble creation, and of the cold misty winters morning he had set the world record for the longest bubble (105ft) in a Karori park.

Taxis delivered their last patrons of the night to the hotel opposite us, the university students that had been loitering also left, and my camera battery died. Our new photographer friend lent me his spare camera.

After an hour or so of experimentation with lighting and storytelling, we realised it was 1am, exchanged email addresses, and called it a night.

Just another of those impromptu footpath collaborations of artists so distinctive of Wellington.

Thank you, Alan.

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