The New Zealand Centre for Photography and The New Zealand Portrait Gallery will celebrate the establishment of their mutual new permanent home in the historic Shed 11 with the opening of two new exhibitions on July 12th: “Collecting Photographers” and “Portraits of Artists”. Watch our events page for details. Featured photographers are Wayne Barrar Janet Bayly Peter Black Ben Cauchi Bruce Connew Alannah Gunter Alan Knowles Mary Macpherson Anne Noble Andrew Ross Jo Russ.
Collecting Photographers presents the photo-based collections of eleven contemporary photographers connected to Wellington, in context with their own concerns and practice. The collections range from the classic to the eclectic and quirky. Whether modest or near-obsessive, they each convey their creator's deep affection, even love, of photography. Together they create a wider view of some recent approaches to photographic practice in New Zealand.
Photographers, it seems, are often also collectors. Some would probably naturally 'collect' in whatever medium they practiced; some also collect other artforms, books, postcards, historical documents and artefacts. It may also be that, apart from important historical collections in many institutions, contemporary ‘art’ and documentary photographers have felt a continuing lack of support from the wider culture, so stepped into the breach to support their peers and aspects of our photographic heritage that inspire them.
Their collections have developed in the ways common to many artists who are also friends: work is often swapped, gifted or somehow ‘inherited’, and occasionally purchased. Buying another artist’s work pays them the ultimate compliment. It is an important act of support, and also respect. These various ways of developing a collection, through exchanges or financial commitment, build a binding history of connections and relationships that often become an integral part of the photographer's whole practice over time.
A private collection differs from an institutional one by virtue of its meaningful personal context and the singular motivations that drive it. It marks certain reference points, models, or precedents in its owner's history - although their significance may not become apparent until much later. Through being very focused, and having grown around an individual or, in some cases, as a joint collection, private collections have added richness, and inevitable patina, through being part of people’s daily lives.
Bringing these visual stories out from photographers’ homes, drawers and boxes, and hanging them together on the fresh bare walls of Shed 11, creates a sense of a web of intersecting, sometimes overlapping conversations, across a diversity of influences and concerns. It asserts that a history and a community of shared interest continues to engage contemporary photographers with one another’s work. It has been a privilege to have been given such generous access to, and loan of, so many personal treasures.
Janet Bayly, Curator