George D. Valentine. A Nineteenth Century photographer in New Zealand

2 April – 27 June 2004

An absorbing journey through the works of a nineteenth-century photographer.

This extraordinary touring exhibition of George D. Valentine (1852–1890) uncovers one of New Zealand's foremost nineteenth-century photographers, outstanding for his artistic and technical skills, as well as for the timing of his photographic efforts.

Although it was ill-health that compelled Valentine to emigrate from Scotland to New Zealand in 1884, little time was wasted in his new environment in exercising his artistic skills. In 1885, spending a week at 'The Warm Lake' Rotomahana, Valentine created an unparalleled series of images of Otukapuarangi and Te Tarata – the celebrated Pink and White Terraces.

In 1886, as a result of the devastating eruption of Mount Tarawera, the Terraces were destroyed and at least 108 lives were lost. Valentine returned to an almost unrecognisable landscape, and in his remaining few years sought out extraordinary landscapes to match his interests and talents.

While the subject-matter of Valentine's photographs holds obvious fascination, the artistic quality of this work is exceptionally strong. The exhibition presents aspects of his background and story to enhance appreciation of the works, most of which have not been exhibited since his lifetime, or published. For many, this exhibition will be a new experience; an extraordinary encounter with the power of the photographic medium, and with early photography in particular.

George D. Valentine: A Nineteenth Century Photographer in New Zealand is developed and toured by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū in association with Ngāi Tahu Development and Nga Kaumatua o Tühourangi - Whakarewarewa, Rotorua.