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Camera Obscura – new paintings by Turi Park

Camera Obscura – new paintings by Turi Park

Idiom Studio 19 March – 9 April

The large, layered and allusive landscapes in Turi Park’s new exhibition explore the darkened fringes of our remaining forest.

In referencing both our natural environment and our history, Turi is inspired by the work of his father, environmental historian Geoff Park, the author of the acclaimed Nga Uruora: the Groves of Life. History and Ecology in a New Zealand Landscape. Both father and son have learned from the bush and share a love of place, history and detail.

These strikingly distinctive works merge contemporary print technology with traditional oil painting and varnishing techniques. Turi says, “I am excited by combining the realism and immediacy of photography with the qualities of tone that only paint can achieve.

“I use a digital camera and then manipulate the images. Often many images are layered to achieve subtle shifts in perspective and qualities of light. The works are then output to canvas using signwriting technology. At the canvas, I use a mix of shellac, bitumen and oil glazes to deepen the dark tones and shift the surface quality of the photographic image.”

Dark tones recall New Zealand's legacy of bush-burning, a prosperity built on rivers of ash. One work refers to the way farm stock have consumed the undergrowth, foreclosing on the cycle of regeneration. These paintings are quietly suggestive of the histories tucked away in these now abandoned spaces.

Turi Park is creative director of native, the Wellington design house whose work ranges from the covers of Trinity Roots albums to ‘The Shape Project’, exhibited at an international design show in London in 2002. A Päkehä named after the captain of the Aotea canoe, Turi also has a reputation for speaking out on the ‘cultural responsibilities’ of the New Zealand creative industries. He has queried the development of a ‘Brand New Zealand’ and produced a design for a new national flag.

His work as a visual artist dates from 1984 when he became the youngest artist ever to exhibit with the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. His works are held in public and private collections in Asia and Europe as well as New Zealand. The title Camera obscura refers to the darkened viewing chamber, in effect a room-sized pinhole camera, which was a popular attraction at Victorian theme parks. This is Turi’s first solo exhibition.

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