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Laurence Aberhart / James Newitt

5 June – 12 July 2008

Geraldine Kirrihi Barlow

These parallel exhibitions offer the photographs of highly regarded New Zealand artist Laurence Aberhart adjacent to the work of emerging Tasmanian artist James Newitt. Whilst each exhibition takes its form from the internal logic of the artist’s practice, there are also shared interests which flow between these separate bodies of work.

The photographs of Laurence Aberhart reflect the rush and flow of time – documenting the vernacular architecture of rural New Zealand, recording the meeting places of communities which have been subject to enormous change and capturing fragile traces of the early lives of the artist's children. This exhibition brings together works by this eminent New Zealand photographer dating from the 1970s to the present. Selected works in series, such as The Maori churches of Northland, community alls and Freemasons lodges, are presented alongside affecting single images: a light suspended over a Toowoomba street, the blurred movement of a child in the dappled shadows of the undergrowth and the graffiti of an unknown poet discovered in the dunes.

James Newitt watches and listens. Newitt is intensely interested in the experience of place and memory, taking us hitch-hiking through frosty hinterlands in his work Arberg Bay and looking for echoes of the Saturday night dances once held at Koonya Hall, on Tasmania's Tasman Peninsula. Saturday Nights 2006 offers a portrait of a community in changing times. At Newitt’s instigation, Koonya Hall, once the location of weekly Saturday night dances, again opens its doors to local music-makers and revellers. This gently observed work celebrates the particular as well as the unexpected – the vernacular richness of an architecture so familiar it is almost invisible and the anticipation and warmth of an evening perched between the ‘now’ and ‘then’.

Image: James Newitt, Arberg Bay 2006, video still. Courtesy of the artist