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Gardens Of Erewhon ­- Photographs By Paul Thompson

For immediate release

Gardens of Erewhon ­ new photographs by Paul Thompson
Idiom Studio, 10-27 September 2003

Attached: Erewhon 3, Lambda colour print, 32 x 45cm

As the director of the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, Paul Thompson¹s opportunities for photography are limited. However he managed to take both a camera and a bright yellow nylon rope to the South Island high country last year. The resulting series of bold colour images, titled Gardens of Erewhon, appears at Wellington¹s Idiom Studio from 10 to 27 September.

Paul says this exhibition and his earlier series The Illustrated Erewhon both draw on the 19th-century English writer Samuel Butler¹s sojourn in New Zealand. Butler arrived in Canterbury in 1860 aged 24, and with no previous farming experience he established a sheep station in the foothills of the Southern Alps which is still running today. Here he also developed the ideas for his most famous novel, Erewhon, an equally durable project which has remained in print for over 120 years.

These photographs show details of the sub-alpine landscape marked out by a rectangle of yellow nylon cord which, says Paul, instantly transforms a natural feature into a garden, a cultured space. ³Erewhon was inspired by the South Island high country but in fact it¹s an imaginary place. Gardens of Erewhon creates imaginary gardens, given a brief existence by inserting boundaries into a seemingly natural landscape.²

Butler himself was well aware of the significance of taming small sections of wilderness by turning them into gardens. A sketch of his property which he drew and jokingly labeled contrasts ³ye horryble glaciers² and ³ye vexatious gullies² with ³ye garden, so orderlie and precise².

Next year Gardens of Erewhon will reappear at public galleries in Dunedin and Timaru, not far from the dramatic and challenging mountain landscape which inspired both Butler and Thompson.


For more information or images, or to interview Paul Thompson, contact: Mark Derby

Idiom Studio 26 Elizabeth St, Mt Victoria Wellington, NZ Ph. (04) 939 1215 Fax (04) 939 1216 Mob. (027) 279 0491 Website

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