A Bit of a Do 2005

Exhibition selected by Brian Curtis, Editor, Photographers Mail.

Rose Rowan - Wedding Dress
Rose Rowan
Wedding Dress
Before the Wedding celebrations begin, this photo is taken behind the scenes and literally behind the bride and bridesmaids as they add the finishing touches to the back lacing on the wedding gown. This photograph is interesting in that so much is expressed without our even seeing the faces of the figures. The viewer can feel the deep absorption of the mother of the bride and the bridesmaid as they perfect the appearance of the gown. Also visible is the anxiety and pre-wedding tension in the bride's back, her head bowed in intense concentration. The two women framing the photo look inwards; making the gown's lacing the focal point of the photograph, not unlike Horst's famous image of Mainbochers Pink Satin Corset.
Murray Helm - Country Birthday Party
Murray Helm
Country Birthday Party
This is William Sagers's 5th birthday celebrated in a Clevedon paddock referred to locally as Pinocchio Park, the ideal setting for a children's party. The photographer was touched by the rural simplicity of this gathering and thought it an affecting and idyllic moment worth recording. The photo has a nostalgic feel, photographed in classic black and white and the circular composition of the children is anchored by the circular shape of the quaint, old fashioned hat on the table. The birthday cake, the bowl of plums and the bottle of L&P make this an iconic Kiwi summer shot.
Julia Durkin - Mr and Mrs Brash
Julia Durkin
Mr and Mrs Brash
This shot of Don Brash and his wife was taken at the Auckland 2005 Lantern Festival, an event celebrating the Chinese New Year attended by over 100,000 people in Auckland annually. Julia is interested in the political context of public events, especially during an election year and here she has captured the leader of the National party being interviewed by China TV, complete with the shooting cameraman in shot. This photo is all about image, and we can see the conscious construction of political image played out in the photo - a party leader in election year presenting himself as an all embracing, participating friend of all cultures, being interviewed while taking part in a Chinese celebration especially for the benefit of Chinese television viewers.
Tara Ginsberg - Cricket Match
Tara Ginsberg
Cricket Match
A much loved Auckland tradition - watching a game of cricket at Eden Park - though like many on the terraces, Tara Ginsberg has found as much interesting activity going on amongst the spectators as on the field. Here, Tara has captured the moment just after Australia have hit a 4, giving them 10 runs off the first 3 balls in this, the inaugural Twenty20 cricket match between Australia and New Zealand in February 2005. The two Aussie supporters, in matching Australian uniforms, spontaneously mirror each others actions, facing in opposite directions with arms raised in the air, saluting with beer in hand. It almost looks as if their cheers have been especially choreographed in front of the big screen shot of their hero, humbly strolling down the wicket after batting. The joy of the two supporters is contrasted with the looks of frustration and disappointment on the kiwi fans surrounding them as they proudly enjoying rubbing salt in the wounds.
Lindy Hickman - Dancing Circle
Lindy Hickman
Dancing Circle
This photo of an Indian Dance Group was taken at the Dewali festival, the Festival of Lights, here in Auckland. The photograph is much more than just a documentation of the event; it is an artist's impression which can be viewed in a purely formal, decorative way. Lindy has accentuated all the joy and colour and energy of the dance by blurring the warm, bright colours using a slow shutter speed and zooming in and out with the lens, intensifying the sense of movement, dissolving the space between the figures and creating the feeling that their energies are blending into one exhilarating whirl of motion.
Murray Helm - Hay Making
Murray Helm
Hay Making
Murray Helm has captured a very social event in the Clevedon country calendar when the farmer relies on the good will of friends and neighbours to help gather and stack the bales of hay. This is an annual ritual in country life which is fading with hay making becoming increasingly mechanised and the whole farming process more and more dehumanised. In this photo, Murray Helm has found an old fashioned, ideal landscape with eager children enjoying some good, healthy, hard work. Another iconic Kiwi shot, the sun-kissed colours express a feeling of calm and well-being in this green and pleasant landscape.
Brian Livingstone - Curtain Changing
Brian Livingstone
Curtain Changing
This image shows Clive Crasto and his sons Brett and Dirk changing the curtains at their family home in Henderson. This curtain changing is not merely a domestic task but also represents the continuing of a family tradition brought with them from India through their residence in the Middle East and now to New Zealand. Changing the curtains is a ritual carried out by many Indian families during Diwali, the Festival of Lights, when households are given a kind of "spring cleaning" to create a spruced up, pleasant and inviting household which the Gods would be happy to visit. Brian Livingstone is himself an immigrant and was interested in finding out about particular aspects of another immigrant culture and how they differ from his own. He has captured a scene which you may not see often amongst three average Kiwi guys but the photo expresses the intensity and importance of this ritual to the Crasto family with all three men's attention riveted to the curtain.
Bianca Jade - Girl with Maori Carving
Bianca Jade
Girl with Maori Carving
A simple, beautiful shot, taken at a Marae Hui, shows a small, pakeha girl photographed alongside a Maori carving. This could be an image carefully constructed to advertise New Zealand biculturalism but instead has been captured quiet spontaneously. The composition, with the girl slightly in front of and lower than the carved figure suggests the traditional religious iconography of a Madonna and Child and though this is not a religious image, it expresses the same grandeur and dignity. The black and white simplicity and the mirroring of the two figures' expressions with their half smiles and wide eyes confronting the viewer add to the austerity and gravity of the image, allowing it an iconic air.
Ben Campbell - Pasifika Boy
Ben Campbell
Pasifika Boy
Ben Campbell's dynamic composition creates a challenging tension in the photograph with the large figure in foreground out of focus and the small child in the background as the focal point. The movement and drama and dynamism of the photo, and by extension, the Pasifika festival that it documents, are added to by the ends of the oars jutting out in all directions and the look of intense determination on the small child's face. More than just a photograph of the performance, the photo suggests a thrilling narrative of Pacific canoeists going into battle with a raging ocean.
Abby Storey - Pasifika Tuba
Abby Storey
Pasifika Tuba
Taken at this year's Pasifika festival at Western Springs, this photograph is an arresting and unusual shot with the juxtaposition of a Pacific Island cultural group huddled in the background in deep perspective and the focal object of the photograph, the beautiful curves of the tuba, monumental in the immediate foreground. This is a very original shot of the Pasifika festival which is usually represented in ways which express all of the colour and movement and fun and laughter of the festival. Though not detracting from this, we have instead a black and white, very still and quite solemn shot which adds a new dimension to the documentation of this Auckland event.
Scott Diamond - Ta Moko
Scott Diamond
Ta Moko
Scott Diamond took this photograph for a friend, as part of a series documenting this English-born woman receiving a moko, which she has decided to wear because of her love of Maori art and culture. The tattoo artist, Inia Taylor of Ta Moko in Grey Lynn is relaying a story with great animation as the English woman and an Italian man listen carefully. For the photographer, the photo represents the love affair new immigrants and casual travellers have with our art, culture and history. The story telling theme of the figures in the foreground is echoed in the display of the collection of artefacts on the wall behind, and the space between the background and foreground has been flattened by the black and white photography. Like the found collections of objects in Jean-Marc Tingaud's Interieurs (1991), these cherished items on the wall elicit stories and meanings in themselves.
Roger Slater - Swimming Caps
Roger Slater
Swimming Caps
This photograph by Roger Slater was taken at the Weetbix Kids Tryathlon held at St. Helier's Bay in February this year. The image can be viewed as both a document of this event, but also as a disinterested, purely formal study of the repetitive patterning created by the mass of black swimming caps. The children themselves are not focused on, instead the visual effect that is created when, en masse, they become more than the sum of their parts. The photo can be compared with Hiromi Tsuchida's Workers Waiting in a Park for the Start of a May Day Demonstration (1976) where the photographer has similarly captured a mass of black and white chequered hats in one of a series of photos called Counting Grains of Sand which focuses on the theme of the crowd as a visual phenomenon.
Donna Sarten - Wedding Rehearsal
Donna Sarten
Wedding Rehearsal
Taken in the backyard of a home in Whenuapai, Donna has photographed a moment off-duty for the flower girls during the dress rehearsal for a wedding. The photographer is the mother of Willow in the foreground and grandmother of Lily Victoria in the background. The photo is captivating because of the sharp perspective of its striking, diagonal composition and also for the candid nature and incongruity of the children's informality and wild play while dressed in such formal attire. Willow, with her confronting, make-up smudged face, swings fearlessly on the washing line, and the sense of the forcefulness of her swing is heightened by the cropping of her legs while Lily Victoria has plonked herself on the ground, guzzling back her bottle amongst the sprawl of clothes pegs. There is a rawness and wildness in the representation of these children that reminds of Shelby Lee Adams' photographs of Appalachian children, giving a complexity and depth to them that works like an antidote to the saccharine representation of children in the usual Anne Geddes style.
Rossando Hernandez - Wheel of Fire
Rossando Hernandez
Wheel of Fire
This spectacular photograph was taken at the Gleem Festival in March this year, held at the Corban Estate Arts Centre in Henderson. The photo has an almost medieval, pagan quality with the barely lit crowd gathered around the wheel of fire, the figures all in shadow but for halos of light, all except for one brightly lit figure on the left who the others seem to gaze towards. The photographer has captured an intense chiaroscuro from the fire's light giving the whole photograph a rich painterly feel and a dramatic, suspenseful ambience.
Roger Slater - Sad Boy
Roger Slater
Sad Boy
This photo, also taken at the Weetbix Kids Tryathlon, has all together quite a different effect. This is a much more intimate portrait of just one child, who in amongst the fun and laughter of a children's sporting event is having quite a different experience. The photo is remarkable in that the photographer has created such a disturbing image quite unrepresentative of the reality of the event. With the grainy black and white photography, the nakedness and humiliation of the boy with numbers written on his skin, and the grimacing, slightly angry face of the other boy looking on, the photographer has constructed an undercurrent of exploitation and violence in the image, more akin to Larry Clark's photographs of the dark underbelly of teenage life in Tulsa (1971) than mere shots of something as innocent as the Weetbix Kids Tryathlon.
Lynn Clayton - Wedding Dancers
Lynn Clayton
Wedding Dancers
Taken at a wedding at the Markovina Estate in Kumeu in February this year, Lynn's photo was shot as the guests danced under a psychedelic light ball with a bubble machine adding to the frivolity. The dazzling lighting and the blurred effect achieved through slow exposure add to the sense of movement and the heady, party feeling.  The shot appears to be seen from the point of view of one of the wedding guests watching the dance, having to sit this one out, after a few too many champagnes have induced a bad case of double vision. The photographer has created a shot which is not simply a record of the wedding but a more interesting, dreamy image with a slightly unsettling feel and some black humour.

Captions written by Elaine Smith

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