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The polar sea and the polar sky - Anne Noble

The polar sea and the polar sky
new photographs by anne noble

Bartley Nees Gallery
147 cuba Street, Wellington
October 12 ­ November 9 2004

Image 'The Polar Sea (Japan), 2003-04

Highly acclaimed Wellington photographer Anne Noble opens an exhibition at Bartley Nees Gallery tomorrow with a substantial new body of work that investigates the presentation of the Antarctic landscape around the world. This global photographic project also examines the way photography operates to shape and inform our knowledge of place.

In 2002, Noble went to Antarctica as an Antarctic Arts Fellow. Most people never visit Antarctica ­ it is a landscape that exists only in the imagination, known from photographs and other re-presentations in Antarctic Centres around the world. Noble began to investigate this general experience while waiting to depart for the ice. To fill in time, she visited the Antarctic Centre in Christchurch and started to photograph what she could find of Antarctica in Christchurch, thus beginning the project that took her as far afield as Scandinavia and Japan and which is now presented in this exhibition.

In these locations remote from Antarctica itself, snowstorms, icebergs, wildlife and the Antarctica light are recreated to offer a simulated experience of the great southern continent. Noble photographs these simulations and people¹s experience of them. Here ideas about the way photographic images mediate our experiences of the Œreal¹ are presented in all their contemporary complexity.

"My photographs of museum interiors are made intending to capture the aura presented in the reproduction of Antarctica. I am interested in the context of their creation as well as the experience offered. Photographs of the Aurora Australis, of sets and scenes incorporate the light sources within the image as a repeated motif. I am interested in the subjective transcendent experience that some landscape images offerŠ This suite of images asks about the nature of wonder, imagination and longingŠ These images of Œdreams of place¹ suggest a tougher project that might contribute to discussions about the connection of photography and Antarctic tourism to the colonisation of Antarctica and even photography as a colonising force." Anne Noble

Noble¹s earlier Antarctic images shot in Antarctica itself, and exhibited at the Bartley Nees Gallery in 2002, explored ways of looking at the landscape: firstly, a study of the effect of light on white resulting in the beautifully sublime William¹s Field images and secondly an investigation of the landscape formed by the activities and culture of science.

Anne Noble has been at the forefront of photographic practice in New Zealand since first attracting attention in the early 1980s with her acclaimed Wanganui River photographs. Work in series ­ often exploring the imagination and representation of place, memory and sensation - enables her to explore the medium and its possibilities, in great depth.

In 2002-03 a major retrospective of her work States of Grace toured New Zealand. The book produced to accompany the exhibition, States of Grace, reveals the range and versatility of her work from the celebrated Wanganui series of the 1980s to the dramatic and lusciously coloured Ruby¹s Room images. Inventive, idiosyncratic and often at once sublimely beautiful and challenging, Noble¹s photography constantly explores new territories and new technologies.

Photographs from the ongoing series of Ruby¹s Room, 1997 ­ 2004, described by the artist as "an alternative archaeology of childhood", provide a highly original and non-cliched representation of childhood through an exploration of the things children, in this case the artist¹s daughter Ruby, do with their mouths. Photographs from Ruby¹s Room are currently on show at Monash University Museum of Art in Melbourne.

Noble has exhibited regularly in public and commercial shows and her work was included in Slow Release: recent photography from New Zealand at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne in 2002, Observed and Contrived: Recent International Photography at the Queensland Art Gallery 1998 and the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane in 1993. Noble has a Master of Fine Arts (Honours first class) and teaches photography at the Massey University, School of Fine Arts.


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