Remembering Anzac: Laurence Aberhart

106 - Aberhart - Dunrobin - Edievale, Otago, 25 June 2012 (Custom)

Laurence Aberhart, Dunrobin — Edievale, Otago, June 25, 2012, 2012, platinum (courtesy of the artist)

For longer than 30 years, Laurence Aberhart has been providing an insight into memorializing war with his images of single Anzac figures and monuments. He's travelled throughout New Zealand and Australia capturing the striking images, and now you can see 60 of these prints in the exhibition ANZAC: Photographs by Laurence Aberhart at Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, from May 30 to December 6, 2015. We talked to Aberhart about the process behind his work and what initiated this three-decade project.

D-Photo: More than 30 years of work has gone into this exhibition; what is it like to now see it exhibited as a whole?

Laurence Aberhart: I do not see this as a whole. It is part of the greater range of ‘work’ that I do. I collect things in photographs. This could be seen as a subset of a subset. It is not complete as I am not a complete-ist. But it is good to see a collected group, together, on the wall and in print, to be able to read the greater picture rather than the singular. Then, one is able to see the ebb and flow of it. It is the justification for all that effort.

How did taking photographs for this project begin? What triggered it?

I use a big camera on a tripod. The larger format, to a degree, determines certain work practices — long exposures being one. I self-taught myself photography and the history of photography. I developed an attraction to nineteenth century images — the older the better in my book. The first photographers, because of the low sensitivity of their materials, made very long exposures, so many of the first photographic images are of statuary, immobile representations of the human likeness. I would like to think that in following on with the same, that I am not copying but participating in the ongoing history of the documentation of ‘memorials’, and participating in the unbroken practice of what I can only call, ‘the ritual of photography’.

133 - Aberhart - Maori War Memorial, Moutua Gardens, Whanganui, 3 November 2011 (Custom)

Laurence Aberhart, Maori War Memorial, Moutua Gardens, Whanganui, November 3, 2011, 2011, silver gelatin, gold and selenium toned (courtesy of the artist)

What was the process behind deciding which camera to use? 

I have used the same camera since 1974/5 and nothing but that camera since 1979.

Were there many difficulties in shooting with available light? If so, how did you overcome them?

Wind. Other than that, set camera up on tripod, determine and set the aperture, trip the shutter and let it go.

149 - Aberhart - Kendall, NSW, 11 March 2013 (Custom)

Laurence Aberhart, Kendall, NSW, March 11, 2013, 2013, platinum (courtesy of the artist)

You travelled across Australia and New Zealand to capture these images — how did you know where to go, did you have a path in mind?

Much of the earlier work was serendipity. It was what I came across in my travels up and down New Zealand and, more lately, in Australia. As the centenary of WWI came closer  I realized that I had better focus more intently on the WWI soldier memorials, I had to plan circuits. Some  memorials I already knew of, and would have noted before, and some was research on various websites. As the work has been essentially self-funded, with some assistance from Creative NZ towards the end, it has been made under a degree of economic restraint. You could go on, not forever, but for a very long time, to finish this. And as I have said, I am not a complete-ist.

144 - Aberhart - Berriwillock, Victoria, 4 May 2005 (Custom)

Laurence Aberhart, Berriwillock, Victoria, May 2, 2005, 2005, platinum (courtesy of the artist)

What sort of messages are you hoping people take away from the exhibition?

I don’t think it is for myself to have any sort of message. I would hope that the work, as images, is open enough for it to trigger whatever the viewer wants to get from it.

This is a travelling exhibition and was launched in Dunedin. What do you think about it travelling the country? Do you want to see it shown in Australia as well?

I think that it is a good thing that it is travelling to both large and small museums and art galleries, as there is something in it for every province and some states, and much of subject material local people would not be aware of.  It was very important to me the honour the ‘A' of Anzac; not to make it solely of New Zealand images, so, yes it would be nice to see it go to Australia. A portion of it will be exhibited in Istanbul later this year [in an Australian exhibition].

On this weekend

If you're keen to get out and see some fantastic photography this weekend there is plenty happening around the country: Russ Flatt: Paper Planes – Auckland


Breaking from his distinguished fashion photography career, Russ Flatt exhibits two distinct personal fine art series of work, each exploring ideas of identity, memory and engagement with the past. The first is a series of detailed colour tableaux, the second black-and-white mug shot-like portraits. The free show is at the Pah Homestead until September 28.


Bev Short: All Woman – Auckland

Portrait photographer Bev Short travelled the country to create compelling, inspiring environmental portraits of empowered New Zealand women from all walks of life in this engaging series. The exhibition is showing free on Waiheke's Community Art Gallery until the end of the month.


Ann Shelton: Two Words for Black – Auckland


Prolific Wellington-based art photographer, Ann Shelton, has a show combining a sample of her diverse older works alongside new series City of Gold and Lead, which she created while in residence at Tylee Cottage in Whanganui. The exhibition is free at the Trish Clark gallery until October 2.


Jane Ussher: Still Life – Auckland


In 2008 Jane Usher, one of New Zealands most respected editorial photographers, made a trip to Antarctica and created a series of images exploring the details of the huts used in Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton's historic exhibitions. These images, with accompanying audiovisuals and objects from the Antractic display, make up the Auckland Museum's free Still Life experience, on until October 5.


Laurence Aberhart: Heavy Metal II – Whanganui

One of the country's most important art photographers, Laurence Aberhart, exhibits fifteen of his richly detailed black-and-white images as platinum prints in a follow-up exhibition to the McNamara gallery's first heavy Metal show. The free show runs until October 4.


Wairarapa Camera Club: Hidden Faces, Hidden Gems – Masterton

The Wairarapa Camera Club's biennial exhibition of club work continues in this new show, displaying the organisation's recent emphasis on visual story-telling techniques. The free exhibition is hosted at the Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History until September 21.


Peter Peryer: A Careful Eye – Hutt City


One of the country's most acclaimed artists returns to the gallery that helped start it all; over 50 photographers taken from Peter Peryer's notable 40-year career are on show at the Dowse, the very same gallery in which his first solo show hung in 1977. A Careful Eye is free and runs until November 23.


World Press Photo 2014 – Wellington

The spellbinding, often shocking, collection of the year's best photojournalism from around the globe is currently on display at Wellington's New Zealand Portrait Gallery. Entry is $10 (kids under 16 are $5), and runs untill Sunday, September 21 – don't miss this one.


Ans Westra: Rātana – Wellington


A series of black-and-white and colour images exploring the North Island town of Rātana pā from the 60s onward, Rātana is an exhibition by one of New Zealand's most renowned social documentary photographers, Ans Westra. The free show is at Cuba Street's Suite gallery until the end of the month.


Gretchen So: NY 10048 – The World Trade Centre in the early 1990s – Wellington


Commemorating the anniversary of New York's Twin Towers attack, acclaimed Hong Kong photographer, Gretchen So, shows a series of black-and-white prints from the iconic US site taken in the early 90s. The free exhibition is on at Courtenay Place's Photospace gallery until October 6.


Mark Adams: Tatau 1978-2005 – Christchurch

Mark Adams, one of New Zealand's most notable photographers, created a body of work examining the challenging subject of colonial history in the context of Samoan Tatau tattoing, with a focus on the work of master Samoan tattooist Paulo Sulu’ape. The works are on show for free at the University of Canterbury until October 2.

D-Photo no. 58 out Monday

DP58Our clever subscribers can begin checking their mailboxes from tomorrow, but everyone else should run down to the local news agent because D-Photo no. 58 hits the shelves on Monday. This issue we talk to portrait artist extraordinaire, Esther Bunning, about her magical Tales of Whimsy images that turn childhood dreams into photographic reality.

We also feature work from American master William Eggleston alongside New Zealand great Lawrence Aberhart, looking at a new exhibition exploring their contributions to the poetry of everyday life.

Travel photographer Josh Donnelly takes us on a photo tour of Myanmar and we look at Swiss photographer Sebastian Magnani's arresting new project with a creative look at dogs and their owners.

You will also find an exclusive feature on the fresh, challenging work from New Zealand's best young photographers in the Canon EYEcon awards, and learn how not to bore your friends to death with dull GoPro footage in Mead Norton's action video tutorial.

Our beloved regulars also offer up some inspiring insights, including Chris McLennan's tour of New Zealand's best kept landscape secretes, Jackie Ranken's use of double exposure in travel photography, Andy Belcher's heart-pounding rafting photography.

Plus our resident experts are on hand to help you master light, with Paul Petch looking at the fundamentals of location portraiture and Luke White laying down the many studio options available with a single light.

And our tech-head reviewers put Sony's full-frame mirrorless A7, Panasonic's tiny Lumix GM1, Canon's impressive L-series 200-400mm zoom lens and Olympus's stylish OM-D E-M1 through their paces.

If you are keen to grab the new issue online you can do so here, or you can subscribe (or re-subscribe) and go in the draw to win one of two GoPro Hero3+ cameras – we've got a Black Edition worth $599 and a Silver Edition worth $479 to be won!