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Local Bloke – Peter Solness from Maroubra

By James Hutton on December 25, 2018 in People

Creating magic in people’s lives, by James Hutton

Maroubra resident Peter Solness is a photographic artist and teacher who uses light as a way of reimagining the world around him. For Science Week this year he ran a large-scale public art event in Centennial Park that attracted over 600 participants. Peter shares his local favourites with The Beast

How long have you lived here?

I was born at the War Memorial Hospital in Waverley in 1958 and learned to swim at Bondi Baths in the mid ‘60s, so I’ve kicked around these parts for a while. I’ve recently moved back to Maroubra where I lived in the mid 2000s.

Why do you live here?

My son goes to Maroubra Bay Public, so we can ride our bikes to school rather than drive, which is priceless. I’m always up for a surf and I also love slipping into a pilates class for a ‘plank’ at the Des Renford Aquatic Centre.

What’s your favourite beach?

For any surfer an empty wave is a premium. Thankfully Maroubra Beach delivers the goods.

What’s your favourite eatery?

For the past ten years, on the first Tuesday of the month I have eaten at Jack’s Pizzas on Coogee Bay Road. I’m part of a men’s group. We sit around a table eating Jack’s ‘Coogee Bay Special’ with a glass of red discussing les affaires du jour.

Where do you like to have a drink?

Any place that serves Young Henry’s Pale Ale on tap.

Best thing about the Eastern Suburbs?

I can stand on a sandstone outcrop at Maroubra and see an infinity of shimmering light running all the way to the horizon. It’s pretty special.

Worst thing about the Eastern Suburbs?

So many nice trees seem to go missing.

Do you have a favourite sporting team?

I’m not really into team sports.

What music are you into at the moment?

Thanks to Spotify I’m into searching multiple cover versions of old favourites. Check out George Michael’s version of Bonnie Raitt’s classic love song, ‘I Can’t Make You Love Me’.

Who is your favourite person?

My favourite person is anyone who practises art, thinks art or buys art. Art is humanising.

What do you get up to on the weekends?

I still like to hear the clomp of the Sydney Morning Herald landing outside my bedroom window on a Saturday morning. On Sunday mornings I’m one of a sea of parents watching their little tykes do beach sprints at South Maroubra Nippers.

What do you do for work?

I practise an obscure method of photography called ‘light painting’. In essence, I mount a camera on a tripod and experiment with torchlight in darkness. The results are astounding. I’ve illuminated wonderful Aboriginal rock engraving sites around Sydney, including at North Bondi and Mackenzies Point. You can see them on my website, I also run light painting workshops in schools, including Woollahra Public and Cranbrook. The kids love them.

What’s your favourite thing about work?

Creating magic in people’s lives by stepping into the dark and waving lights around. A year 9 student said recently: “I can’t express how happy I feel at the moment”. That is job satisfaction.

Do you have a favourite quote?

It’s better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

Any other words of wisdom for readers of The Beast?

Listen to others people’s stories. It will take you places you never imagined.