New Zealand artist, Laurence Aberhart has been taking photographs since the late 1960s and his 8 x 10 inch black and white contact prints comprise a detailed and ongoing investigation of New Zealand, its people, landscape and history. In more recent years he has taken his camera and his eye for cultural and natural memorials to Australia, Asia, Europe and the United States.
The forthcoming exhibition Sun Pictures & Museology includes images taken in New Zealand and during recent travels within Australia.
Sun Pictures are works in which the sun and its light, or sometimes the absence of it, are significant to the construction of the image. An image of an historical house in regional Victoria, Interior #4, "Murndal," near Hamilton, SW Victoria, 11 June 2003 depicts the sunlight streaming through windows to form shapes which echo those of the building’s interior.
Museology is a selection of images which document the collection and display of various aspects of cultural and natural history. A number of these images were taken when Aberhart was commissioned to make images to record the old Museum of New Zealand in Wellington before it was incorporated into the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa at its new premises on Wellington harbour. Finding more of interest in the storage areas of the museum than the display galleries, he photographed behind the scenes where the taxidermied and wrapped inhabitants of the museum seem to come to life. The bird in Albatross, Taranaki St., Wellington, 3 October 1995 could be resting mid-migration. Meanwhile the owls in Moreporks, Taranaki St, Wellington, 3 October 1995 peer at the viewer as though we have interrupted the meeting of some secret society.
Aberhart is able to find poignancy and beauty in aspects of everyday life, whilst an absence of figures in many of his works suggests a moment which has passed into history, taking its inhabitants with it. This idea is presented most strongly through images of graves and vaults in memorial sites which include Victoria’s Blackwood cemetery. These images of sanctified stone figures express a melancholic stillness but also convey a sense of European history imposed onto a local landscape.
Laurence Aberhart has shown regularly with Darren Knight Gallery since 1994, and has had numerous exhibitions with public institutions both in Australia and overseas. These include Laurence Aberhart - Selected Works, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2005), Laurence Aberhart at the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam (2002), GHOSTWRITING: Photographs of Macau at the Macau Museum of Art (2001), All Gates Open, a touring exhibition, New Zealand (1999-2000) and Nature Morte, 105 Photographs, 1971-1989, National Art Gallery, Wellington (1990). Aberhart’s work have been collected by all major New Zealand public museums, as well as the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, the Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, the University of Wollongong, Wollongong, the Stedelijk Museum of Modern Art, Amsterdam, the Hallmark Photography Collection, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City and the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
In 2007, the City Gallery, Wellington in partnership with the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in New Zealand will present a survey exhibition of Aberhart’s photographs which will be accompanied by a comprehensive monograph.