Mary Macpherson

The photographs of Mary Macpherson – with a dash of poetry

The weight of names

with 2 comments

Trudging, plodding and sometimes leaping through rounding up the names of all the trees I’ve photographed, I’ve felt the weight that naming something places on us. To know the name of the tree, at times, seems more important than seeing the actual tree, or the image of the tree. Yet the tree lives and grows outside our naming conventions – what does it matter to the tree what it’s called? When I look at the photographs I’ve made, there’s plenty to be understood or felt without knowing the name. But to give the tree a place inside our culture, to place it on a par with humans, it seems important to have that label. Perhaps it’s linked  to our dependence on language as a way of understanding the world.

Anyway – more success with names. After being turned down by the Auckland City Council for help with names, a kind woman at a local plant shop identified Dracaena and a few others from my photographs – all in between my buying a pink geranium and the next customer. How good I felt with that name – Dracaena. Wikipedia tells me it’s a romanized form of the Ancient Greek, linking back to the meaning of female dragon. Now I feel really secure about that picture….

Dracaena in pot

Dracaena, Devonport wharf, Auckland (from the Bent series) (image copyright Mary Macpherson)

Happily I do have all the names for the 22 picture excerpt from Bent that I’ll be showing at Photospace Gallery in late February – March 2014.

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Written by Mary Macpherson

10/11/2013 at 12:09 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Weighty indeed! Shall you be able to succeed?

    Professor VJ Duke

    10/11/2013 at 12:20 pm


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