Mary Macpherson

The photographs of Mary Macpherson – with a dash of poetry

Posts Tagged ‘Mary Macpherson photography

New work

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Standing numbly at the bus stop at 7am in the deep chill of winter recently gave me one of those ‘I can never imagine summer again’ moments. But inside our heated printing room I’ve been reviewing work from last summer’s photographing. Like the start of all new series it’s messy and not sure where it’s going, but here’s one for a different season.

Lake Taupo, 2014

Lake Taupo, 2014 (image copyright Mary Macpherson)


Written by Mary Macpherson

05/07/2014 at 11:33 am

Something like a history of NZ art photography

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While searching to match labels to pictures in the over 100-image show, History in the taking – 40 years of PhotoForum, it dawned on me that this show at the Gus Fisher is the nearest thing to a history of New Zealand art photography that we’ve had in a gallery. The show stretches from an early daguerreotype used by ex-PhotoForum director John B Turner as a teaching aid, through the years to Chris Corson-Scott’s 2013 large format colour image New Year’s Day.

The main gallery hosts historic work through to the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s – needless to say an exercise in black and white photography. But what an exercise. On the walls were images that were part of my formative years as a photographer, that in retrospect took on new dimensions. There were intriguing works by people who’ve disappeared from the photography scene, early works by artists like Peter Peryer and Laurence Aberhart – waiting to grow into their careers – and work that was strong in its time and now.

In the latter category I really enjoyed Tom Hutchin’s 1956 Saturday night dance in a worker’s club at Changchun, North East China, where a young Chinese couple dance with touching delicacy, an image that seems related to the mood of early Ans Westra pictures. Glenn Busch’s large penetrating portrait Man at an Outdoor Cafe, Auckland 1973 bowled me over, as did Marie Shannon’s 1985 Rat in the Lounge.  Other treats were Aboriginal Children, Roebourne W.A. 1976 from Bruce Connew’s first documentary series, Lucien Rizos Wellington n.d., featuring an intense camera-carrying boy and Peter Black’s Selwyn Toogood 1981, an image with a strange dining room glamour that reminds of how tv came into our lives. To name just a few of the treats …

The foyer of the gallery is given over to contemporary work. Although the show has a good selection of significant work, with the wider arts photography scene now, not every significant contemporary name is here. But there’s enough to show the energy and direction of these times – Chris Corson-Scott’s layered image, Roberta Thornley’s 2009 Couple and one of Geoffrey H Short’s sensuous Untitled Explosion 2007 glowing away in its lightbox, are among the highlights.

If you are in Auckland before 28 June, this show is a must visit among the Festival of Photography exhibitions. Also showing at the Gus Fisher is Ane Tonga’s Grills, a beautifully considered installation, while downstairs is a small selection of my Bent work, along with my book. Towards the end of the month, PhotoForum will be releasing a significant publication of the images in the show with commentary about PhotoForum’s history and the people involved.

(Let’s hope that plans to tour this exhibition work out. In the meantime, big ups to the Gus Fisher for hosting this significant show)

Thanks to the photographers below for permission to reproduce their work.

Man at Outdoor Cafe, Auckland 1973, Glenn Busch

Man at Outdoor Cafe, Auckland 1973, Glenn Busch (image copyright Glenn Busch)

Selwynn Toogood, 1981, Peter Black

Selwynn Toogood, 1981, Peter Black (image copyright Peter Black)

Aboriginal Children, Roebourne WA 1976,

Aboriginal Children, Roebourne WA 1976, Bruce Connew (image copyright Bruce Connew)

Mary Macpherson at Gus Fisher

My talk about Bent at the Gus Fisher gallery. In the foreground current PF director, Geoffrey H Short, and past director, John B Turner (photo copyright Peter Black)

Written by Mary Macpherson

13/06/2014 at 11:20 am

Peeking in Auckland

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In Auckland recently, I was lucky enough to peek at the book PhotoForum plans to launch to commemorate its 40 year history, along with an exhibition at the Gus Fisher Gallery. Apart from what the book and show will encapsulate of NZ’s essential art photography history, I suddenly realised that period of time was my life. (Duh!) A weird feeling that something you lived through, and was part of your confused existence, has became a narrative in the past tense. But as an art photographer, I know that period was an important time for nurturing my work and that of many significant figures. I’m really looking to June when it will all be unveiled – and thanks to the people in Auckland who are burning the candle at both ends to complete the projects.

Another Auckland pleasure was staying in a room on a 13th floor at the end of Queen St. In this land of head offices I felt like a sparrow flying for the air between buildings (not unlike the feeling of my childhood dreams when I constantly swam through the air to escape some peril or other).

Room and buildings in Auckland

Auckland 2014 (Image copyright Mary Macpherson)

Written by Mary Macpherson

05/03/2014 at 5:41 pm

Cuttings 01

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Lake Taupo – branded as the Great Lake – where I’ve been holed up, walking beside, staring at, thinking about, photographing trying describe some relationship to the water in a way that embraces and makes use of the cliched.

Everywhere there’s water – the hot tub under its little thatched hut, the kidney shaped baby-blue swimming pool, the glittering blue eye of the Waikato River and the constant swishing of the great grey lake that runs as far as you can gaze. Around the shores birds live their purposeful lives, feathery trees stretch as far as  they can on rocky outcrops and designer homes are fastened to the views.

I’d publish a picture but Nikon hasn’t yet put wireless into its grown-up cameras. Words will have to do.

Written by Mary Macpherson

14/02/2014 at 4:34 pm

Caption heaven

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Tearing open the parcels of my Bent books, I was really happy with the quality of the reproductions and layouts and, absurdly so, with the captions. Partly it was the memory of cutting and pasting all 68 ‘darlings’ into the big hardback, and going cross-eyed matching the caption numbers with images in the small softcover. But most importantly it was the knowledge that, as planned, I’d been able to name all the trees.

For this major thanks are due to people and institutions – so a big shout out to Janis Freegard – the talented poet, botanist and policy person, who tracked down an Elm, Moreton Bay Figs and Fan Palms and this Sawara Cypress (how good it feels to know that name).

Cross, Sawara Cypress

Cross with Sawara Cypress, Otaki (from the Bent series. Image copyright Mary Macpherson)

And the multi-talented Jonathan Kennett who’s written the text for the books, and helped identified many of the trees and wood in the images, including this table – which is a companion picture to the cross.

Macrocarpa table

Macrocarpa table, Featherston (from the Bent series, image copyright Mary Macpherson)

And this treatment of Silver Birches.

Silver Birches by supermarket, Taupo

Pollarded Silver Birches, Taupo (from the Bent series, image copyright Mary Macpherson)

Bent is my series about how the lives of trees are affected by human needs. An extract from the work will show at Photospace Gallery, Wellington from 22 February 2014. A limited edition hardback book will be launched at the same time.

Written by Mary Macpherson

19/01/2014 at 4:43 pm

The weight of names

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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.

Written by Mary Macpherson

10/11/2013 at 12:09 pm

And the tree is…

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Happily the helpful Parks Horticultural Officer at Rotorua has told me that the tree (below) is a Wellingtonia (giant sequoia) also know as Mammoth Tree or Big Tree  – how good is that?

Written by Mary Macpherson

21/10/2013 at 9:00 pm

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