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ABERHART Three Decades


Part of Head On Photo Festival Curated by Catherine Benz, Delmar Gallery


INTRODUCTION

In this age where photographs quickly disappear into the oblivion of an imagesaturated world, Laurence Aberhart’s photographs quietly endure. Peering through the window into the worlds he records is a process of discovery. With their extraordinary depth of field bringing sharp focus to even the smallest details, they reward slow and intent looking. Writing about Cartier Bresson, John Berger paraphrased him as saying that what counts in a photograph is plenitude and simplicity. In Aberhart’s photography, we encounter this often. The slow pace of looking at his prints is mirrored by the slow process of taking the photograph. Since he began photographing in the 1970s, Aberhart has used only the one camera. Despite

its being cumbersome to use – the whole apparatus weighing 20kg – and requiring papers and film not easy to obtain, he continues to shoot with a century-old, Korona 8” x 10” view camera. Choosing the right conditions, setting up the camera and tripod, framing the shot, loading the film under a black hood and then waiting for the exposure (in the case of his Mt Taranaki photograph in “The Prisoner’s Dream”, five hours) takes a considerable length of time. So too, the process of developing the prints. Eschewing an enlarger, Aberhart makes contact prints and tones them in a gold and/or selenium bath. While he was able to obtain it, he used printing out paper which developed in daylight with exposures between two and six hours. The qualities of exceptional luminosity


and fine detail of his prints are due to this photographic process and Aberhart’s technical prowess. Being disposed to work in such a way suggest his approach to photography is one of consideration, sensitivity and observation. The worlds he invites us to dwell in are often of quiet repose, yet charged with the fullness of lives lived there. Born in Nelson in 1949, Aberhart trained as a school teacher and moved to the north of New Zealand’s North Island for his first teaching position. He recalls being entranced by the magic of photography, when he saw an image emerge in the darkroom for the first time. He later gave up teaching to devote himself to photography, and to the task of documenting for posterity. This was the impetus behind his well-

known photographs of the Northland Maori churches. Falling into disrepair, and being built of timber in the wind and rain-swept north, he could see that within a decade many of these churches would disappear – and with them, this part of New Zealand’s history. This exhibition begins with a small selection of these church interiors. It spans Aberhart’s practice of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s, plus some photographs from 1978 and 2012. As he will return to a subject or location after years of absence, and sees his photography as a single, lifetime project, the exhibition is not arranged chronologically. Instead, it has been conceived in three parts: physical presence, traces of people’s lives, and metaphysical thresholds. Whilst history,

memory, wit, technique and composition are important aspects of Aberhart’s work, the deeper current flowing through it is a meditation on mortality and photography’s connection to it. Or, to call again on John Berger, experiencing Aberhart’s photographs is to feel that “… the dead are with us. The dead are not abandoned. They are kept near physically. They are a presence. What you think you’re looking at on that long road to the past is actually beside you where you stand.” - Catherine Benz, Curator


EXHIBITED WORKS Te Hapuku, Te Hauke, Hawke’s Bay, 17 June 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Building on a corner, Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan, 26 May 2001 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm [Silos] Culcairn, NSW, 18 August 1997 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm [Silos] Near Junee, NSW, 18 April 2000 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Tank, Carterton, 15 April 2004 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm The Egg, Albany New York, 7 September 2010 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Chimney, Sydney, NSW, 20 April 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Anglican Church, Pawarenga, Herekino Harbour, Northland, May 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Domestic Architecture: Broken Hill, NSW, 9 August 1997 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior #1, ‘Tepuhiomatatua’, Te Totara, Bay of Plenty, 7 June 1982 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior, church, Oraora, Northland, 24 April 2007 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, from upstairs gallery, Catholic church, Motukaraka, Hokianga Harbour, 3 May 1982. gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior #1,” Ripeka Tapu”, Rangi Point, Hokianga Harbour, 3 May 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior, family church [Methodist], Whirinaki, Hokianga Harbour, Northland, 23 April 1982 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Cemiterio de S. Miguel Arcanjo, Macau, 22 November 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior, Small Shrine, Gong De Lin Temple, Macau, 5 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm


Fortune Teller, Rua do Almirante Sergio, Macau, 10 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Last Light, View of Macau, 5 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, Tung Sing Tong Clinic of Beneficence, Macau, 23 November 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Tat Seng Forged Iron Stall, Rua dos Ervanarios, Macau, 1 December 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Tai Tat Tei, Macau, 19 November 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Macau, 19 November 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior #1 Tea Shop Ieng Kei, Rua de Cinco de Outubru, Macau, 8 December 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Wall, Macau, 8 December 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Memorial, Cemiterio De S. Miguel Arcanjo, Macau, 22 November 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, photographic studio, Otaru, Hokkaido, 27 May 2001 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Domestic Interior, Wellington, 29 April 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Joseph’s room, Lyttelton, 24 July 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Mid-way Drive-in (abandoned), Europa, Mississippi, 16 September 1988 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Infant of Prague, Hato Hohera Catholic Mission, Waitaruke, near Kaeo, Northland, 20 May 1982 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Family Church (Methodist) Whirinaki, Hokianga Harbour, Northland, 23 April 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Auckland, 21 October 1993 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm


Taranaki (The heavens declare the glory of God), New Plymouth, 14 May 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Headstone, Melbourne General Cemetery, Melbourne, Victoria, 8 June 2003 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Anatomy #5, Dunedin, Otago, 24 October 2012 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Taranaki #2, Hawera, 23 March 1993 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

[William G], Shaw, Mississippi, 17 September 1988 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Albatross, Taranaki St., Wellington, 3 October 1995 silver gelatin POP print, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Prisoner’s Dream - View #1-#4, Ripapa Island, Lyttelton Harbour, 14 March 2000 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Coffin, Stafford, Westland, 1978 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Nature Morte (silence), Savage Club, Wanganui, 20 February 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Prisoner’s Dream - Taranaki from Oeo Road under Moonlight, 27-28 September 1999 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Takiji Kobashi Memorial, Otaru, Hokkaido, 2001 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Mechanical Yellow Eyed Penguin, Tacy St, Wellington, 9 October 1996 silver gelatin POP print, gold toned., 19.4 x 24.5cm

Taranaki from Rahotu, Taranaki, 1 June 2010 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Anatomy #1, Dunedin, Otago, 24 October 2012 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, Ancestor Photos, Chok Lam Chi Temple, Macau, 18 November 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm


Interior # 1, Hop Yick Cheong, Christchurch, March 1983 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Shed, Ruru Road Memorial Cemetery, Christchurch, 1980 (Death to Disco) gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior #2, Byko Cycle Works Westport, February 1980 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Detail #1, Waikumete Cemetery, West Auckland, 8 February 1993 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Files, Wanganui, 1 July 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Dunedin (Maltexo), 15 February, 1999 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

“Whitikaupeka”, Moawhango, April 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Hau Hau Flag, Nelson College for Boys, Nelson, January 1983 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Reuben, Russell, 14 April 1993 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior # 2, ‘Te Rapunga’ Waiomio, Northland, 5 November 1984 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Te Koolis’ [Hau Hau] Pole, Headwaters of the [upper] Wanganui River, 7 April 1982 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior #2 Kawerau Waitotara, 10 March 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Hau Hau Flag #3, Wellington 1983 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Last Light, Near Pacy, France, 11 October 1994 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Catholic Cross, Puketapu (Fern Hill), Hawke’s Bay, 16 June 1982 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Taranaki, (no date) Wanganui 1986 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm


Last Light, Ships at Sea off Newcastle, NSW, 28 July 1997 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, Entrance to Niang Feng Temple, Macau, 6 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Last Light, Napier, 14 May 2003 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Door, Avenida Do Coronel Mesquita, Macau, 6 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Last Light, Oshoro, Hokkaido, 5 June 2001 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Eripitana, Te Whaiti, Urewera’s, North Island, 18 June 1982 gelatin silver, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Kamala and Magdalena, Mornington, Dunedin, 1978 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Interior, Entrance to Nu Wa Temple, Macau, 7 December 2000 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior, hall, St. Bathans, Otago, December 1980 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm Interior, hall, South Springston, Canterbury, October 1980 gelatin silver print, gold and selenium toned, 19.4 x 24.5cm

Exhibition held at Delmar Gallery, Trinity Grammar School, Sydney, 29 April to 29 May, 2016 Curated by Catherine Benz. Part of Head On Photo Festival 2016. Laurence Aberhart is represented by Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney. Installation photography by Silversalt.


Aberhart: Three Decades  

A survey exhibition of works by renowned New Zealand photographer Laurence Aberhart, held at Delmar Gallery, Sydney, May 2016