Aligning with the stars

Kester Sappho’s photo of John Butler, Boulder, Colorado, 2013. Inset: Kester Sappho, ‘selfie’, on the streets, USA

Aligning with the stars

Sandra Conte

1 October 2013

Artistic pairings with the landscape can produce inspired results.

There are those who do not necessarily class themselves as artists, in the strict sense, but produce outcomes imbued with a real edge, borne of everyday experiences – take ‘snapper’, Kester Sappho, who is the tour manager for John Butler Trio and whose work features on eARTh’s cover – here, Kester has captured the relationship and respect between two independent but married artists, explaining to eARTh e-mag, “The cover image was taken on December 29, 2012 at the Woodford Folk Festival. During the show, during the set, John tends to invite Danielle (Mama Kin) up to guest on a song they’d written together called ‘Jenny’; it’s an amazing song and one of my personal favourites. John was playing the Intro. and I hopped on stage and hid behind the drum kit and snapped the pic. I’m not sure what they were talking to each other about but I just liked the energy and natural comfort between the two of them”.

Unencumbered and fresh in her approach to photography, Kester’s images reveal an effortless, timeless quality. Some of Kester’s band shots are also to be found inside Mama Kin’s latest ‘album’, ‘The Magician’s Daughter’; she also recently took a photo of John Butler communing with the Colorado environment – “It was taken in Boulder. CO. at a point called ‘Royal Arch’ in the Chautauqua National Park. John’s guitar tech. likes to hike and suggested we hike the mountain, so the three of us did. It was definitely a highlight of the tour for us all. Again, I just snapped the image as John stood on this little jutting ledge. It wasn’t a posed shot. I like taking pics. when people don’t know or when they’re just in a moment. I feel like you get a more realistic portrayal of the subject when they’re unawares. I am not a professional photographer. I own several cameras which I bring along on tour with me. I would love to learn more about how to use my fancy digital SLR but I can’t find the time; I’ve always had a passion for music and photos. I am a self-confessed stalker and I love the Instagram APP. I just like to document life in images and capture moments in time. I have an Instagram (kester_sappho) if people are interested in taking a ‘gander’ at what I do.


Artistic pairings can result in rich benefits for both parties. Take the self-appointed ‘Grandmother’ of performance art, Marina Abramovic who has international gravitas. It took a recent ‘collaboration’ with one of her fans, Lady Gaga, for Marina Abramovic and the ‘Abramovic Method’ to reach so many more people in the world. Gaga can be seen immersed in this Method – a series of exercises designed to heighten a participant’s awareness of their physical and mental experience in the present moment – holed up in Abramovic’s spartan art studio and pristine wooded surrounds in upstate New York, curling up with what appears to be an oversized crystal, standing blindfolded in water while the rain drops around her, sitting still on wooden chairs, back-to-back with Abramovic above the stream, or naked in the forest – it makes for riveting, near vicarious viewing about how performance art and artists can engage with their immediate environs.

While Abramovic has always appeared to be attuned to her environment, once Gaga entered her world and this footage was released, the number of youth embracing Marina’s performance art and the Abramovic Method increased considerably, as Marina herself acknowledges.

Find out more about The Marina Abramovic Institute (MAI), which will be the first space dedicated to practicing the Abramovic Method, which prepares participants to both perform and observe long durational work. For more about the Abramovic Method, see website ( and the video from Bonsai TV ( Visit Marina Abramovic Institute on Twitter (@hudsonMAI), Facebook (, and Tumblr (

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