Margaret Dawson

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1950

Hobbyhorse (Outside)

  • Purchased, 2005
  • Photograph
  • 1300 x 1000mm
  • 2005/063
  • 2005

Hobbyhorse (Outside) was made eighteen years after Marg n.l. Persona, but the setting, again, was Margaret Dawson’s weatherboard house. It’s one of a series of works concerned with ideas of playfulness. “I was playing with representations of women of various ages. Both of these women had their own distinctive style regardless of latest fashion. Although I didn’t know them well I admired their self-confidence. I asked one to select lighter clothes from her wardrobe and the other darker. Positioning one woman outside the other inside created a mystery, a tension—and suggested a story in the image, although mine might be a different one from the next viewer’s.”

Dawson’s aim, in both images, is to achieve a female gaze—meaning that she is keen to establish a female perspective for both the production and reception of the image. “There are always problems”, she’s said, “with putting representations of women in the picture.” A heterosexual male gaze is the default perspective of advertising and the mass media, in which a woman is there to be looked at, and is judged on her age and appearance. Dawson’s photographs flip this convention, training her gaze on the unspectacular everyday lives of women.

(Your Hotel Brain 13 May 2017 - 8 July 2018)