Gardens of Erewhon Paul Thompson
10 September 27 September 2003 at Idiom Studio, Wellington
4 September 24 October 2004 at the Hocken Library, Dunedin
Gardens of Erewhon is a further development of Paul Thompson's use of Samuel Butler's stay in NZ as a departure for an informed contemporary practice. The original b/w series, The Illustrated Erewhon, which examined issues of authenticity and technology, was shown at the National Library Gallery in Wellington in 1998, as the feature exhibition for Heritage Week in Christchurch in 2000 and was featured in Art New Zealand and the Journal of NZ Photography.
Gardens of Erewhon plays with a double conceit.
Gardens are a cultural intervention in the landscape and thus any demarcated space can be termed 'a garden'. Like any artform, a garden can be conceptual and not have a physical existence. As has been demonstrated so aptly in literature, a garden can be imaginary.
'Erewhon' (literally 'Nowhere' spelt backwards), the setting of Butler's dystopian novel, was inspired by the topography of the South Island high country but in fact its an imaginary place. Gardens of Erewhon combines the 'site' of Erewhon with the creation of imaginary gardens, given a brief existence by being marked out by the insertion of boundaries into a seemingly natural landscape.
Paul has been exhibiting his photographs since 1975, with solo shows in major private and public galleries He is represented in public and private collections in New Zealand and overseas.
Previous exhibitions include Photos from Nowhere, or the Illustrated Erewhon, at the National Library, Wellington in 1998, and Niu Tireni at Idiom Studio, Wellington, in 2001 and Galerie Romerapotheke, Zurich in March 2004. Gardens of Erewhon, appeared at Idiom in September 2003 and goes to the Hocken Library in September 2004.. A further series, Album Gauguin, has been published as a unique photographic album.
Paul is the author of several books including An Ink that will Stand Forever - Maori rock art and The Bach. He also selected images and wrote text for A Century of Images (on 20th century NZ photography) and A Gentlemans Collection (on the nude in 19th century postcards). He has written extensively on photography for the NZ Journal of Photography.
He has worked as the concept developer, history at Te Papa and as South Island
manager of the Historic Places Trust, and is currently director of the Museum of City and Sea, Wellington.