‘Real Pictures: Imaging XX’ curated by Nina Seja.

We are very excited to be involved with the exhibition ‘Real Pictures: Imaging XX’ curated by Nina Seja, opening at the Gus Fisher Gallery this Friday 2 June. PhotoForum is publishing the catalogue as PhotoForum issue number 88, which will be distributed to PhotoForum members and be available for sale at the gallery.
Dr Seja wrote the detailed history of PhotoForum ‘PhotoForum at 40’, and it is a pleasure to be collaborating with her again on this project, presenting work by five artists associated with the hugely influential photography gallery and laboratory Real Pictures, which operated in Auckland from 1979 to 1990.

Geoffrey H. Short
Director, PhotoForum Inc.
30/5/17

 

Catalogue for the exhibition ‘Real Pictures: Imaging XX’ at the Gus Fisher Gallery, 2 – 30 June. Exhibiting artists Sue Gee, Megan Jenkinson, Marie Shannon, Deborah Smith and Jenny Tomlin. Curated by Nina Seja in association with PhotoForum.


Jenny Tomlin, ‘Sedge, Windy Point, Whatipu, 1985’. From the series ‘The Well Kept Wilderness’.

Poster for the exhibition ‘Photographs by Marie Shannon’, Real Pictures, 1985. Image: ‘Waiting for the Tide’ 1985.


Megan Jenkinson, ‘Hand to Hand II’ 1985, Cibachrome collage.


Deborah Smith, ‘The Pursuit of Game (VIII)’ 1988.


Sue Gee, from ‘Chinese Ties’, 1983.

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Blikfang Art & Antiques: Lightfall in passing – Michael Smythe

lightfall michael e-flyer

 

LIGHTFALL in passing

Real pictures revisited

Michael Smythe reckons Cibachrome prints are real pictures with extra qualities that do not carry through to digitisation. That’s why he is re-framing and re-exhibiting the images first shown at Real Pictures Gallery 32 years ago back when it was in His Majesty’s Arcade.

Smythe did not set out to be an exhibiting photographer. He took to the camera when he realised his design practice was not challenging his creativity at its outer limits (because his clients and/or their customers were not demanding enough). He needed a personal pursuit which did not require the scrutiny and evaluation of anyone but himself.

Experiments with photography found direction in his twin brother’s VW Beetle as it hurtled along the road to Gundagai in 1981. With no time to stop on this Sydney to Melbourne road trip Smythe began snapping the passing scenery from the passenger seat. One shot stood out. The distant desolate landscape was stark and sharp against a leaden sky while the foreground could best be described as a green-brown scribble. That shot set him off on a quest to document the elusive landscape as we usually experience it — in passing.

Many attempts followed but he found the results unsatisfying, until one evening in 1984. He was in the back seat of a client’s Holden Commodore speeding home from a Taupo site visit (with another designforces partner in the front). Between Meremere and Mercer the late afternoon light was bouncing off the Waikato River and flashing through the trees. Smythe wound down the window, set a slow exposure and worked his way intuitively through his two remaining rolls of Ektachrome slide film.

The results left him gobsmacked. The eerie imagery and extraordinary strike-rate left him feeling more like a midwife than an artist. Although exhibiting had never been part of his photographic plan it seemed that the next phase in his own exploration had to involve printing, framing and contemplating the best shots as a group.

Motion Pictures ran at Real Pictures Gallery from 17 September to 5 October 1984. The Cibachrome prints — with their multi-layered emulsions — added an extra level of enrichment. Three or four prints sold. And that was it. All further efforts to capture anything like the same energy and atmosphere have fallen short. The designer /artist has moved on.

Smythe is re-presenting the Real Pictures Cibachrome prints in an exhibition entitled LIGHTFALL in passing at Blikfang art & antiques, Northcote Point, running from 4 March to 16 April.

FOOTNOTE: Earlier in 1984 Michael Smythe had stood as the Labour candidate in the East Coast Bays seat. Most non-Nats voted for Gary Knapp (Social Credit) to stop Murray McCully from winning the seat. But Smythe did beat New Zealand Party candidate David Phillips — the property developer who, four years later, demolished His Majesty’s Theatre, paved paradise and put in a parking lot.