Two new exhibitions at Mahara

By VIVIENNE BAILEY

‘Foundlings: Liz Cathie’ and ‘Young Country,’ an exhibition of heritage photographs, opened recently at Mahara Gallery. The two exhibitions have also incorporated four individual talk events, including poetry readings by contemporary New Zealand poet, Kerry Hines.

Artist, Liz Cathie, uses mixed media, collage and photography (either separately or in combination) in her work to create visual interest, and to give everyday objects many would discard, a second life, “synergy, visual richness and subtlety are created by pairing surprising elements and colours.”

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Liz Cathie Branching out, 2014

‘Young Country’ features a selection of photographs taken c. 1882-1906 by William Williams, and is curated and presented with poems by Kerry Hines.

William Williams (1858-1949) was born in Cardiff, and immigrated to New Zealand as a young man. Here he embarked on a lifelong career with the Railways’ stores branch, travelling throughout the country.

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William Williams, Maori Head, Napier Harbour, late 1880s

The Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, holds the principal archive of William’s work, mainly in the form of glass-plate negatives and “kindly gave permission for scans from these to be used in this project,” said gallery director, Janet Bayly. The images which ‘doubled’ were photographed in stereographic format, a technique popular in the nineteenth century for enabling images to be seen in 3-D through a binocular viewer.

Leading New Zealand photographer and associate professor at the School of Art, Massey University, Wayne Barr, created the hand-made albumen prints for ‘Young Country.’ Barr has a long-standing interest in the history of photography, and used nineteenth century technologies and processes familiar to Williams and his contemporaries.

Albumen printing is slow and painstaking, involving the delicate separation of egg whites to provide the albumen, careful paper coating to avoid ‘bubbling,’ long negative exposures, silver salt baths and gold toning. It is rarely used today, but offers beautiful tones and fine detail ideally suited to William’s photographs.

Hines’s poems in the ‘Young Country’ exhibition were “written in investigation and in response to William’s images, for presentation with them, and should be considered works of the imagination.”

As well as poet and writer, Kerry Hines is a researcher with particular interest in photographic histories. She has work published in numerous literary journals, including ‘Millionaire’s Shortbread’ (2003), and has a PhD in creative writing from Victoria University.

Both exhibitions will continue at Mahara Gallery until 14th December.