|The Forces of Action and Reaction are Equal and Opposite. mixed media, 1000 x 2000 mm, 2005|
|Turi Park Camera Obscura new paintings: 19 March 9 April, 2005
There is a 12 page catalogue of works available on PDF.
Click here to download (pdf file 1.9 megabyte)
The work of light and memory
Turi Park’s latest work seeks to represent and inhabit Aotearoa’s specific qualities of light, as much as a New Zealand sense of landscape. Revisioning the (eco)tones of the bush the browns, greens and glares of home Park calls us into the layered memories of a place.
Imagine yourself in the bush, squinting. The scene before you is a haze of lightpoint as looking recedes and other senses are brought into play: sound, smell and touch bring the space to mind. Park disarms realism to draw the viewer into the image, via the senses. The techniques of camera obscura (Latin: dark chamber or room) becomes a means of knowing and unknowing. Park’s chamber is not dark but dappled, edges of light softened by leaf form and loam. He attends to the conception of light and its subsequent diffusion through form and space. His intensive scrutiny of leaf form and the leaf-touched air, for example, is in part a homage to light.
The work of layering begins at the physical level: image, oils, bitumen and shellac evoke familiar rich tannins, kauri gum orange or translucent greens. Shellac and bitumen darken and refer pointedly to the Claude glass, skies are browned at the edges. Dark tones or dark spaces recall New Zealand’s legacy of bush-burning, a powerful prosperity built on rivers of ash. These brooding qualities are often balanced by the glare of late spring in the corner of a frame. In The Church that Jack Built a green band, suggestive of an incongruous patch of manicured bowling green perched amongst supplejack, is, on closer inspection a leaf detail. The placement highlights ‘those pockets of bush that exist’ today, Park says, ‘only because they were too difficult to control.’
Where might this eye for lush remnant come from? In his acclaimed book Nga Uruora: the Groves of Life. History and Ecology in a New Zealand Landscape, Geoff Park writes ‘Reading the landscape like using a tiny net in a big river you can catch only some of the infinite detail’ . Father and son have learnt in the bush and share a love of place, histories and detail. They see cycles of growth and change at multiple levels. The Edge Light sequence takes a wide-angled view of the kahikatea near Peter MacIntyre’s house at Kakahi. Decimal Currency refers to the way farm stock have consumed the undergrowth, foreclosing on the cycle of regeneration promised in the third image, while in the diffused central panel the river becomes a ribbon of light, opening us to distance.
Any (post) colonial landscape is layered with disruption and diffusion. The Conservation of Linear Momentum maps the earth tones of the kiekie leaf onto the land. The leaf references the ploughed furrows of Parihaka; the focus on leaf form acknowledges the intricacies of kowhaiwhai and whakapapa. Dawn Poem for Taranaki views Tongariro and Ruapehu from Taranaki. Here, Park's vantage point is the porch of a hut moved onto Taranaki by the early Chief Surveyor S. Percy Smith. (Smith procured many scenic reserves, an appropriation that preserved the stands from the work of the plough and the work of the snare). Park’s work is quietly suggestive of the histories tucked away in these (now) unlived in spaces.
Detail is pressed, reworked and released, balanced within cycles of growth and what Park has called a ‘currency of decay’. These visual layers are alive to the way memory and process can be caught in the net of the senses, glimpsing what has slipped beyond the present. Revisioning and remembering, Turi Park draws us closer still to where we are, helping us to see where we might yet be.