A small group of photographers spent a week in September, 2009 on an intensive workshop, living and working together and exploring their personal responses to Lake Waikaremoana in the Central North Island of New Zealand, in preparation for an exhibition.
The exhibition of work from the workshop was held at the Te Whare Toi Gallery in Rotorua, between 22 February and 6 March, 2010.
A sense of awareness that so much more surrounds us than meets the eye, a feeling of glimpsing into this world but not being able to see clearly was the essence of this journey into the Ureweras for me and the work I have made. I was listening to an old radio, full of static, just getting a clear word now and again. In one moment the static cleared and I could really see; the vision was like quicksilver – changing by the second and almost impossible to hold onto.
The work you see here tells my story in text, as I heard it, and visually documents the fleeting changes in the landscape literally second by second. The tiled exposures were made from the same viewpoint over a period of only a few minutes. Then it was gone.
By the land. By the lake.
I have flown over Te Urewera but I had never actually set foot there. From the air Lake Waikaremoana stands out like an island in an ocean of forest. But on the ground, in person, it is more, much more.
My family lineage is British and I have been to places in Great Britain which have family
connections. They were interesting, and there was something a little special, but they did not feel like home. But here, in a place totally new to me, I felt different. I could sense spirits smiling at me from the white ripples on the lake and gazing down from the tall trees in the mist of the forest.
I am not European, I AM Pakeha.
At Waikaremoana I somehow felt that I was recognised.
By the Land. By the Lake. By the People ……I was welcomed.
Born on New Zealand’s East Coast, raised in Rotorua and just stepping out into the vast world of photography.
To me, photography is a creative outlet to infuse my love of music, dreams, fears and place in the world together into an endless journey.
I am self-taught and remain a work in progress.
I set out to find what was calling me, to communicate with nature, talk to the spirits and return with what it all meant to me.
Only when I listened I realized that it was not the wind and the leaves thrashing around.
The leaves were happy, dancing along with the changing light. Nothing was still and forever changing.
The communication channels were open, but I was blind. I could not hear the message.
Then I found that I was not alone in this huge wilderness and I was being guided to return again in focus to communicate with this spiritual land and only then enjoy the peace, tranquillity and celebrate with the “Children of the Mist”
It was the water this time, the glistening and everchanging play of light and wind on its surface and the reflections of the bush in the still lee of the fingers of the land – it was especially the reflections.
Last time I had visited Lake Waikaremoana it had been all about the trees – their patterns, their presence, their light and their shade. This time it was the water that demanded my attention.
As dusk settled over the lake on the first evening I stood at its edge mesmerised by the reflection of the bush held in the glassy pounamu-green waters of the lake. I felt that I was seeing into another world, a deeply mysterious world without time, which held the potential of all things. It was a profoundly moving experience.
I have endeavored to capture the mystery and feelings, evoked in me, of this naturally beautiful, and largely unchanged, heart of North Island,
To stand on the Bluff, camera in hand, watching the last sun rays hi-lighting the wind’s movement on the water continually changing the surface texture and lighting, was akin to being in an Opera House.
Crystal Lake Te Urewera
Landscape (unsurprisingly) is a major area of photographic involvement and social documentary is another area of interest.
The artistic challenge to explore my own individual voice through the medium of photography demands a real inner journey .. ongoing.
For me photography is not about capturing a faithful record of reality. I have come to a point in my photographic journey where, in my work, I seek to convey a sense of reverence for nature. My photographic interests also extend to impressionism, portraiture and macro photography.
It was a photographic challenge to express my response to Waikaremaona. Katherine Mansfield wrote of this area “It is all so gigantic and tragic. Even in the sunlight it is so passionately secret”. It is the sense that there is something beyond the physical landscape that I endeavoured to portray in my image.
We had gone there to photograph the late afternoon light, to work with the big landscape. When we, arrived, the wind was picking and tearing at the rocks, at the stoically-resistant vegetation and at us. At first it was too fierce for photography. Then a miracle happened. It faded back and allowed us a time of calm to work. But I was unsure what approach to take. There were too many voices.
Then I turned and looked back at the cliff behind us. And saw the face. It had levered itself forth from the broken rock, in supplication and submission. I half-understood the message. It continues to unfold itself.
On another, parallel path, Hopuruahine represents for me a progression within an exploration of the structure and forms of visual narrative, both intrinsic and extrinsic; from the frozen representation of traditional photography with its accent on the Moment, to the fabricated narrative possible in printmaking. All narratives rise, like shimmering silver bubbles of air, up through the deep wells of memory. Constant they are not. And where does the outer edge of the Possible lie?