Author(s): Mary MacPherson
Change in New Zealand society, seen in small towns throughout the North and South Islands, is the subject of Mary Macpherson's Old New World photographic book and touring exhibition. The in-depth study by Wellington-based photographer Mary Macpherson took seven years of travel around New Zealand to create. Lopdell House Gallery in Auckland has published the 96 page hardback book. It will be launched on 14 June 2012 with an exhibition of over 40 images of Macpherson's work to coincide with the Auckland Festival of Photography. The striking colour photographs feature buildings, houses, statues and murals to tell the story of a shift from the remains of the traditional New Zealand of the 1950s and 60s to places of boom and prosperity that look very different to our remembered past. "Within that major story arc, I wanted to show the major social and economic trends I saw over the seven years - towns painting up the main street to attract custom and celebrate their identity, places that remained resolutely themselves and those that were heading into decline," said Mary Macpherson.
“I also became very interested in the way an instant ‘New Zealandness’ had sprung up in murals, advertisements and public artworks, often drawing on national or regional history. These things, combined with older identity symbols such as war memorials, seem to be saying ‘hello, this is us, this is our public expression of who we are, or where we’ve come from’,” Ms Macpherson said.
“We’re delighted to be publishing Old New World and touring Mary’s work around New Zealand galleries,” said Lesley Smith, Director, Lopdell House Gallery. “The photographs are profound and beautiful. They’re both fine works of art and significant social documents and I think they’ll strike a chord with many New Zealanders throughout the country. Old New World adds to other quality art books we’ve published such as Len Castle Making the Molecules Dance, winner of the Illustrative Category in the 2009 Montana NZ Book Awards.”
The book features an interview between noted art writer Gregory O’Brien and Mary Macpherson and 62 full page images. The photographs cover towns in many regions including Southland, Otago, Canterbury, Marlborough, Wellington, Taranaki, Manawatu-Whanganui, Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty.
In 2012 the exhibition will show at Lopdell House Gallery and the Sarjeant Art Gallery in Whanganui, before travelling to other regional art galleries across the country during 2013/14.
Mary Macpherson is a photographer and poet. Born in Dunedin and living in Wellington she has exhibited and published photographs for over 30 years. Her exhibitions span dealer and public galleries throughout New Zealand and her work is held in corporate and public collections including Te Papa Tongarewa, the Sarjeant Art Gallery and others. She also has an MA in Creative Writing from Victoria University and her poetry collections include The Inland Eye, Pemmican Press, and Millionaire’s Shortbread, OUP (joint collection).