Posts Tagged ‘Aberhart’

I am reading a book called “The Theory of Clouds” by Stéphane Audeguy. It is, like much of what I like to read, a mix of fact and fiction and focuses on a history of cloud watching.

A section of the book  tells the story of the painter Carmichael (supposedly based on John Constable) and his obsession with capturing clouds in paint. I had always considered Constable a painter of mills and bucolic settings, but you can see from this google search the extent of his cloud paintings, just a few reproduced here.

cloud_study_by_john_constable_1822_tate_britain constable_cloudstudy_nga one-of-john-constables-cl-007constable_seascaoestudywithraincloud

The difficulty of capturing the cloud is discussed at length on “A Theory..” however now the camera captures clouds with more ease, which you see everywhere in photography from Aotearoa.

Laurence Aberhart. Catholic Cross, Puketapu, Hawke’s Bay, June 1982

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A recent post from Peter Peryer along with my visit to the Wayne Barrar show at DPAG, has got me thinking again about the nature of photography as art.

In my own mind photography is art. Hanging about in a gallery stock room today with Laurence Aberhart and Ben Cauchi works just reiterated this to me. Peryer’s work is certainly art.

So why do I have more trouble in the equally as beautiful photos of Ans Westra and some of  Wayne Barrar‘s work? I see these as a possibly a cross into documentary and photo journalism. Marti Friedlander perhaps spans this? Perhaps there is no difference at all.

My reaction to art is often emotional. Photography as an art form is the perfect illustration of art being a way of seeing the world through another’s eyes.  Maybe my issue with more documentary type photos is that it is just what my eye might see, the more artistic photography is something I might never see for myself…I am not sure if that makes any sense. Also all the artists I have mentioned have a great range and there is no defining them really.

I was thinking about Anne Noble’s “In the Presence of Angels” series last week too. I like the blurring of definitions and realities there. Maybe this series appeals because in my loud and busy life, the apparent calm and simple quiet of the convent seems very desirable.

Anne Noble. The Walled Garden of the Enclosure. 1989. silver gelatin print

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Under the Influence

I have one more entry to write about my Christchurch trip, but I made another trip over Labour weekend that got me thinking again about influence, homage, reference and rip-offs in art.

I travelled not so very far away to Middlemarch to see some trains and to take a trip on a vintage Vulcan Rail car on part of the Taieri Gorge Line. Here is the AB663 (train geeks will understand)

Photo P Dawson 2009

Anyway, this area is the edge of Central Otago and it often felt like I was seeing things through the eyes of artists or as versions of artworks I’ve seen.

Example one: (seeing Laurence Aberhart at Middlemarch)BWRabbit
Photo P. Dawson 2009

Example two: (seeing Grahame Sydney at Sutton)Sutton
Photo P. Dawson 2009

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Firstly I have to admit I haven’t read Proust. I do know a little about the themes (which I suppose makes this is a bit like “How to talk about books you haven’t read“) but his ideas of memory seem to apply somewhat to my feelings towards photography.  The photos that resonate for me and draw an emotional, often visceral response and transport me to a place from my memory. However, memory is unreliable and sometimes maybe I am responding to something imagined, a dream or a nightmare.

So yesterday I got out a few books, Laurence Aberhart’s ‘domestic architecture’  and “Contemporary New Zealand Photographers” and also a video about Annie Liebowitz. The South Bank Show episode on Liebowitz was a disappointment as it was made at the height of the celebrity Hollywood portraits, although it did look at the Rolling Stone work and had an interesting interview with Hunter S Thompson. I remember an exhibition of her work at the City Gallery some time ago (1997!) that seemed much broader and her book “Women” is excellent. Also just take a look at this portrait. I personally think it says a lot. There is a good commentary about this photograph here from the Guardian.


Mind you, to me you couldn’t better the Mapplethorpe exhibition at the City Gallery in 1996. I don’t why I like his photographs so much when they are simply a different world. Maybe it appeals to my voyeuristic nature?

So back to the New Zealand photography. Aberhart’s house’s are great and appealed because I also love what I call “wedding cake houses” the Art Deco flat roofed NZ style that features largely in the book. I used to live in a ‘nest’ of them in historical Savage Crescentin Palmerston North. That development is quite amazing in itself. Ernst Plischke was one of the architects.

Anyway that reminded me of a book I have “Images of a House” by Robin Morrison, another NZ photographer that I am fond of. His ‘Sense of Place’ was exactly that for me and many of his photos capture the South Island of my childhood memories.


The slighty sepia toned photos in “Images of a House” capture something I can’t quite put into words. Even though the house is occupied there is a late afternoon, dusty loneliness.

Another photograph that caught my eye recently was this (on trademe!) :


This image appeared in the book “James K. Baxter: A Memorial Volume 1926-72” with text by Michael King, Maurice Shadbolt, Tim Shadbolt and others.  Its says photographer unknown.

For a more recent view of photography the Contempoarary NZ book was great. Many of the images entered into the dream/nightmare category for me for example Yvonne Todd.

Speaking of Todd, nice to see a partial(?) list of proposals submitted to CNZ  for the 2008 Venice Biennale at Over the net. I cannot understand why an official list cannot be made available. Its public money surely? Lots of analogies have been made but you wouldn’t see his kind of thing happening with the major book awards.

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