Capturing the ‘not quite rightness’

A new exhibition by Gavin Hipkins, photographer, film maker and Associate Professor at Elam School of Fine Arts, opens tomorrow at Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery.

Gavin Hipkins - The Valley (film still), 2019

Homely II features photographs taken in the United Kingdom and New Zealand from 2001 to 2017.

It presents a sequel to the The Homely, an 80-photo frieze of images taken on Hipkins’ travels through New Zealand and Australia between 1997 and 2000, all with an amateur film camera.

The original Homely has, since its launch in 2001, featured in more than 15 curated museum shows in New Zealand, Australia and the USA.

Homely II explores our differences and similarities with the United Kingdom, by shuffling and combining locations to form a fragmented narrative of strange-yet-familiar scenes. 

Both here and in the United Kingdom, Hipkins visited historic and contemporary tourist spots and museums while also gathering pictures of everyday motifs — all in a manner redolent of the ‘not quite rightness’ of The Homely series.

This includes the iconic landscapes such as the Lake District and Scotland’s national parks, and important locations from the industrial revolution.

Closer to home, the series features the Moeraki boulders, geothermal activity in Rotorua and scenes from settler museums. 

These allude to colonial connections, the legacies of industrial expansion, traditions of landscape representation and the idea of domesticity and family.

In conjunction with The Homely II, Hipkins will premiere The Valley (2019), a new video that explores themes of nationalism against Devon’s moors in southwest England.

Inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 novel, The Hound of the Baskervilles, Hipkins grafts portraits of his own forebears across Devon's uncanny landscapes.

A subtext of Doyle’s classic novel negotiates yearnings for a homecoming and an ancestral land.

A Titirangi resident, Hipkins has been described as a ‘tourist of photography’ for the way he navigates the medium’s history, modes, manners, and mechanics across a diverse range of formal styles.

Core concerns unite Hipkins’ work, however, including myths of national identity, exploration and colonisation in the modern era, architecture as both a subject and symbol, and how social and political ideologies visually shape the world we live in.

His practice considers the ability of the camera to simultaneously capture the reality of the world and the deceptions and illusions of utopian fictions.

Homely II; Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery, Titirangi
23 February – 2 June 2019


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