I spent a couple of days in Wellington, New Zealand. I hadn’t been there since I worked in the CBD as an economist and lived in Hataitai on a ridge above the shoreline of Evans Bay in the early 1970s. I was expecting a lot of changes and I was prepared to be rather disorientated.
It was a quick photography trip built around renewing my NZ driving licence and I spent the two days that I had available walking around the CBD and the inner suburbs such as Thorndon; then seeing photography exhibitions and checking out the art hubs/centres when the wind turned into a gale and/or it started raining heavily.
Wellington is a very walkable city, it is easy to get around, and it offers good photographic opportunities due to the CBD being on a narrow coastal plain located between Wellington Harbor and the Wadestown hill face.
The art hubs/centre that I came across was the Toi Pōneke Arts Centre that is run by the Wellington City Council. Its gallery featured paintings by Sally Griffin. I wasn’t able to see her photographs at the PhotoSpace Gallery as the exhibition was not hung. I did see a small selection of the 8 x10 black and white Ahu Ahu Ohu work of Andrew Ross, a Wellington photographer, made during his residency at Tylee Cottage in Whanganui in 2009.
I also managed to see the Photoforum at 40 exhibition at the City Gallery, which is also run by the Wellington City Council. The Photoforum exhibition traces the development of art photography in New Zealand and the growth of photography as an academic subject. The general acceptance of the practice of serious photography today in New Zealand, are part of PhotoForum’s success. Whilst the exhibition is primarily a visual history of PhotoForum it is also a chronicle of the development of modernist photography in New Zealand.
I bought the book, PhotoForum at 40: Counterculture, clusters and debate in New Zealand, which is edited by Nina Seja, and Fiat Lux – 51 photographs by Andrew Ross, which is based around his Wellington images that focus on what is disappearing—the fading past.