In celebration of the government’s announced intention to create the Kermadec Marine Sanctuary (only the 4th biggest in the world!) the Kermadec artists have put together a ‘final’ exhibition here in Wellington.
Hosted by Pataka, the show is on at the Academy Gallery on Queens Wharf from today
All the original artists (Phil Dadson, Bruce Foster, Fiona Hall, Gregory O’Brien, John Pule, John Reynolds. Elizabeth Thomson, Robin White and me of course) are represented, most with new works. I have new photographic works and a video instillation.
I would also highlyrecommend coming to one of the shows put on the the theatre group Company of Giants, who will be performing Rangitahua from the 15th until the 19th (2pm and 7pm). Book at iticket.co.nz. It is a great show that weaves it’s way among the audience and exhibition telling the story of the Kermadecs.
A new Kermadec work from the original voyage to Raoul Island. This is a montage of two photos taken on Raoul as we tramped across to Denham Bay. The post-cyclone bush was dominated by giant tattered Nikau Palms and the force of the storm is very apparent in the image on the left. Walking through this space, around the edge of the volcano’s crater, the island felt wounded, dark and brooding.
In contrast, the right-hand image shows a relatively undamaged spot in Denham Bay itself. However, is actually a mass grave site where some Tokelauan slaves were buried. On 15 March 1863 the blackbirding ship, Rosa y Carmen dumped a hundred of its slave ‘cargo’ on Raoul after dysentery broke out onboard ship. They were left to die.
The title of the work is a quote from Caliban, the island monster in Shakespeare’s “The Tempest”. Raoul truly is full of many voices calling from the past.
A good third of the works on display have never been shown before including these two prints by me. Sea change (above) and Gunner John (below) were both taken on the HMNZS Otago as we approached Raoul Island. I think the talented Greg O’Brien best sums up the works when he described Sea change like this: “Taken a few nautical miles to the south of Raoul Island in the half-light of the early morning, O’Hara’s photograph of the bow of the HMNZS Otago evokes earlier epochs of marine voyaging as well as recording the moment when, just beyond the picture frame, Raoul Island first came into view. The timelessness of this encounter was enhanced by the artist’s decision to use a modern-day digital camera to which he attached an old-fashioned lens.”
Gunner John, John Reynolds on the HMNZS Otago, 2011
Both available as limited edition prints. Image size 363 x 240mm.
Framed $400. Unframed $200.
A new print from the 2011 artist voyage to the Kermadecs. The beaches of Raoul Island are piled high with the most stunning volcanic rocks I have ever seen … and an uncanny number of left footed jandals!
Limited edition prints available. Image size 350 x 232mm. Framed $600. Unframed $300.
Extra large prints (edition of 2) in production now.
“Full fathom five” 2012 Photographic three part collage on archival inkjet print on rag. Framed size 1375 x 580mm
For the current City Gallery exhibition I have created a new edition of Full Fathom Five. Much bigger than the previous print of this image this edition comprises three separate large prints floated together in one frame. Both editions are available for sale – details here
Full Fathom Five is a photo of Raoul Island in New Zealand’s remote Kermadec region. It was taken from the HMNZS Otago as we departed for Tonga. Inspired by the Bell family it was taken with a 100 year old camera lens on a modern digital SLR and features a hand inscribed quote from Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” – one of the few books the Bell family took with them the Raoul (then Sunday Island) in the late 1800′s.
Each year during the months of October and November thousands of humpback whales depart their breeding grounds in Polynesia for the long migration south. They swim through the Kermadec waters, passing close to Raoul Island, and on to the Antarctic where krill is abundant during the summer months. In SIGHTINGS, marine biologist Rochelle Constantine, attempts to capture a DNA sample from one or the early starters – a sole humpback – the only one seen near Raoul during a week in September 2012. These samples contribute to the growing understanding of the lifecycle of this species.
More work inspired by swimming on the Tropic of Capricorn during the Kermadec trip. I wanted to capture the magical colour generated in the water by the propulsion jets of the RHIBs and our own dives. These a stills from the same studio photoshoot as the video work “Hands to Bathe”
“The Collector’s Box” 2012. 1165 x 600mm. Inkjet on rag. Hand-made frame.
Another work inspired by interaction with the scientists involved in the Kermadec Project (particularly those at NIWA – also see ‘The Deep’ series). The Collector’s Box houses a series of black and white prints of various objects – remnants of previous life on Raoul Island. Each artifact with a story to tell – rat infestation and then eradication, birds killed by cyclones, the Bell children hiding messages in bottles … all set to a backdrop of the island. It references the meticulous classification that science applies to such objects.
In 1875 Tom Bell, his wife and six children moved to live on remote Roaul Island (then Sunday island). The family lived on the island in almost total isolation for 35years enduring incredible hardship at times.
After visiting Roaul and reading of the family (in a book called “The Crusoes of Sunday Island”) I was deeply moved and decided to create this shot to tell the story of the oldest child “Hettie Bell” who lived in isolation for the best years of her life.
She wears period clothes and holds a ‘bouquet’ of seaweed to represent her ‘marriage to Roaul’. This photo was shot with a homemade lens with glass from a 100year old camera on a Nikon D300s to further add to historic link. In this print I have used multiple shots to gradually build up the picture – much like the little historic glimpses I have gained into the life of the real Hettie Bell.
It was shot on Breaker Bay Beach in Wellington which bears a striking similarity to Roual Island’s Denham Bay. Using my daughter Lauren to model seemed even more approprate because when I heard Hettie’s story it instantly made me think of her. I think she did a great job of capturing the quiet determination that Hettie must have had.
I am happy to say that since over the last year I have had descendants of the Bell family contact me – absolutely fantastic!
Wakey Wakey Wakey 2012 Acrylic on board 950 x 1350
I decided to hand-paint a’poster’ as a bit of a visual record of the Kermadec trip. As well as our pseudo mascot the flying fish there is an aspect of each artist or their work intertwined with the stories of the Kermadec region and artist voyage.
Wellington based photographer & documentary maker Bruce Foster has produced some fantastic short videos from his interviews with each of the artists after the Kermadec trip. Some great insights into the artists as the reflect on the trip and Kermadec region.
The Generator Shed. Raoul Island 2011
Photographic print 307 x 463mm
Like a church glowing in the evening light the generator shed is conceivably the only source of light for hundreds of kilometers (although the main house has it’s own generator). It also doubles as the islands museum. For sale
Crucible #2 2011
Photographic print 307 x 463mm
The wreck of the Kinei Maru on Roal’s Denham Bay – sits like some oversize Len Castle sculpture. The egg shell hull of the ship cracked open and cast aside. For sale