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These images are from my first solo exhibition in the Shutter Room, Whangarei. The photographs are panoramas largely of sea and rural landscapes, almost all of Northland. Nearly everyone in Northland lives in or near remarkably inspiringly landscapes, and I love exploring the region, particularly places that reference my own childhood and upbringing.
Many of the works in the exhibition were made in the early morning or late afternoon, when the light is low and landscape formations are emphasized by soft light. At this time of day, the light tends to give colour a warm tint. The effect is not dissimilar to the warm colour under-painting used by many eighteenth and nineteenth century European landscape painters.
While the majority of the photographs are in full colour, two are treated quite differently. In the first, a black and white photograph of the Mission Station at Horeke, I explore the absence of colour because of the dramatic tonal contrast between large, fluffy cumulus clouds and the intense crystal clear white light reflected off the mirror-like surface of the Hokianga Harbour. In the second, a night photograph of the Quarry Arts Centre in Whangarei, the photograph is printed in sepia tone, taking its inspiration from a limited colour palette based on the small yellow studio lights scattered throughout the many buildings that comprise the Arts Centre.
Often a specific experience will open new doors for me. Recently, a voyage along the coastline of the Whangarei Heads from Mckenzie Bay, in a small clinker-built boat with Douglas Chowns, provided a new and entirely different perspective of the Whangarei landscape. Photographing from a small boat was a moving experience and not without it’s unique challenges!
A recent, dramatic photograph of the Town Basin clothed in fog came about almost by accident. How to give meaning to the visual complexity of the basin, and to capture its unique qualities, was occupying my thoughts. Early one Easter Monday I was helping a friend set up her stall for the Canopy Bridge Market when the solution appeared, right in front of my eyes. A dense blanket of early morning fog shrouded the landscape. The boats, buildings and even the tree-covered hills and houses were hidden in the mist. The morning light captured the idea of a scene filled, not only with the movement of boats, but with tales of long ocean voyages, and people who travelled from the far corners of the earth to seek shelter, and maintain and repair their vessels, while enjoying local hospitality and a mild weather stop-over in Whangarei.
Before the scene vanished into sunlight, I raced home to get my camera and tripod. Then, still In the midst of the fog and in the space of a few short minutes, I shot enough sets of images to capture something of this mystery in the Hatea River and the Town Basin. They became the inspiration for a second exhibition.