Laurence Aberhart

New Zealander, b.1949

Kamala and Charlotte in the grounds of the Lodge, Tawera, Oxford

  • Gifted to the gallery by Laurence Aberhart, 1982
  • Photograph
  • 435 x 486mm
  • 88/153
  • 1981
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This photograph belongs to a series that Laurence Aberhart began in the 1970s in which he focussed on sites of commemoration, such as war memorials, and structures associated with ritual. He looked at the significance of Masonic Lodges in small New Zealand communities where they served as a place of bonding for men. Women were excluded and membership involved elaborate rituals. Using an old-fashioned, large format Korona camera, the style here is that of an historical documentary photograph, a scene as a simple record, but the strange poses of the children and the eerie light create a sense of mystery. Aberhart’s evocative images reinforce the importance of the photograph as a recorder of history and culture. Aberhart began his photographic career in the late 1960s. His work is represented in all major New Zealand public collections, the Australian National Gallery in Canberra and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney.

earlier labels about this work
  • Resembling an historical documentary photograph, this is a contemporary work made with an old fashioned 8 x10 inch Korona camera. Maintaining photography's traditional significance as a recorder of history and culture, Aberhart's haunting images are steeped in the past yet connect potently with the present. This work belongs to a series focussing on sites of commemoration and structures related to ritual, which began with photographs of Masonic Lodges and war memorials in the mid 1970s and moved on to rural churches, meeting houses and cemeteries. The children posed in the foreground suggest a photograph from a family album but the eerie stillness and strange light create a sense of awe and portent.

Related

Exhibition
Aberhart Starts Here

Aberhart Starts Here

Iconic and unseen early photographs of Christchurch by Laurence Aberhart

Notes
Kamala and Charlotte in the grounds of the Lodge, Tawera, Oxford, 1981, by Laurence Aberhart

Kamala and Charlotte in the grounds of the Lodge, Tawera, Oxford, 1981, by Laurence Aberhart

This article first appeared in The Press on 9 July 2008

It is adapted from an essay in the book Laurence Aberhart, published by Victoria University Press in partnership with City Gallery, Wellington.