The Black Asterisk Gallery – 10 Ponsonby Rd, Auckland August 3 to 31 2016
After a 40-year absence, the classic Queen Street V8 images, shot in the late 1970s by photographer Murray Cammick are making a return to Auckland at Ponsonby’s The Black Asterisk Gallery from August 3 to August 31. The exhibition will include the classic documentary images that are known, plus photos that have never been seen before of the cars and the people that roamed Auckland’s main street, late at night.
In 1974, while still a student at Elam School of Fine Art, Cammick began photographing people and their V8 cars as they congregated late at night in Auckland’s Queen Street. When the theatre patrons went home, the city’s main street was their place to park-up or cruise.
Cammick spent many weekend nights from 1974 to 1981 photographing the scene. While he documented the V8s, his mode of transport was a diminutive Morris Minor that he hid in a side street. Cammick was a shy and naïve 20 year old when he started this series and revellers would see his SLR camera and hassle him to – “take our photo!” – unaware that they were giving the quiet photographer the opportunity (and images) he was looking for.
In 1977 Cammick and long-time friend Alastair Dougal established RipItUp music magazine. After he photographed concerts for RipItUp he headed for Queen Street – but as the eighties got underway – the Queen Street V8 scene faded. A later photo might be a single car moving through the bleak environment, looking for a scene that is no longer there. The dark, empty street has a character of its own and starts to takeover the images.
When he ended his involvement with RipItUp magazine in 1998, he set out to do a series of photographic exhibitions but was thwarted by the digital takeover of photography and the realisation that key images from his Flash Cars series were missing – last seen in the 1980s. In mid-2014, the missing negatives were found, allowing a comprehensive exhibition to be undertaken. Jenny Tomlin, a specialist in the field of silver gelatin printing has made the new prints for the show.
Cammick’s Queen Street photographs are represented in the Te Papa National Gallery & Museum, Wellington. His photographs have been published in Art at Te Papa (2009), NZ Photography Collected (2015, Te Papa Press), PhotoForum at 40: Counterculture, Clusters, and Debate in New Zealand (2014, Rim Books), Into The Light: A History of New Zealand Photography (2006, Craig Potton Press), and Photo-Forum issue 39 (1977, PhotoForum Inc.)
Flash Cars has been shown at Snaps Gallery, Auckland in 1976 and 1977 and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney in 2015. The photographer’s photos have also appeared in group exhibitions including The Active Eye (Manawatu Art Gallery 1975), Drive (Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth 2000) and History in the Taking: 40 Years of PhotoForum (2014).
The Black Asterisk Gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 11am to 5pm.