Northland Churches Opening Photograph Exhibition

Disused Anglican Church, Pawarenga, Whangape Harbour, Northland, May 10, 1982. Photo / Laurence Aberhart

One of the most critically acclaimed bodies of work in the history of New Zealand photography comes to Northland.

The Northland Churches Photography Exhibition will open at the Whangārei Art Museum on Friday.

The collection of works, “Whare Tapu Taonga”, is the work of renowned photographer Laurence Aberhar, who has been practicing photography since the 1970s.

Church of the Transformation, Tautoro, North Island, April 20, 1982. Photo/Laurence Aberhart
Church of the Transformation, Tautoro, North Island, April 20, 1982. Photo/Laurence Aberhart

“His use of an antique Korona camera, last commercially produced in the 1930s, gives his work an atmosphere and substance that perfectly expresses the sense of stillness and reverence for the past that the found in historic buildings,” said the curator of the Whangārei Art Museum. , Simon Bowerbank

Aberhart’s series of images of Northland churches began in 1982 following a grant from the QEII Arts Council.

Historic churches “are quiet little things, so humble that unless you force yourself to stop and look, you’ll just pass by,” Aberhart said.

Aberhart now lives in Russell and has been photographing in and around the Northland region for over four decades.

Family Church (Methodist) Whirinaki Hokianga Harbour, Northland, April 23, 1982. Photo / Laurence Aberhart
Family Church (Methodist) Whirinaki Hokianga Harbour, Northland, April 23, 1982. Photo / Laurence Aberhart

The series exemplifies Aberhart’s ability to capture not only the architecture of these buildings, but also their social and spiritual significance.

The exhibition Laurence Aberhart, Whare Tapu Taonga will be presented at the Whangārei Art Museum from July 30 to October 28.

The museum is overseen by Hātea Art Precinct Trust, which also governs the Hundertwasser Art Centre.

Interior, St. Gabriel's Catholic Church, Pawarenga, Port of Whangape, May 10, 1982. Photo / Laurence Aberhart
Interior, St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church, Pawarenga, Port of Whangape, May 10, 1982. Photo / Laurence Aberhart

Tracey L. Sweeney