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Tailings - Photographs by Alan Knowles

Tailings - Black and white photographs by Alan Knowles

At Idiom Studio 29 August – 23 September 2006

As a small boy in Queenstown, Alan Knowles remembers an ounce of gold nuggets from the family gold claim in the Kyeburn Diggings, magnified by water in a pill bottle, on the mantelpiece of the family home.

Both Alan’s parents had an Otago goldfields family heritage, and his childhood was full of stories of fabulous finds, bushrangers, drownings and disasters. On family outings he would be found panning for colours with any picnic utensil he could find.

As a teenager, he and friends reassembled the sluice gun at the mine on top of Queenstown Hill and blasted the hillside in the hope of finding the mother lode. At Glenorchy they activated the unattended State Battery that serviced the scheelite mines of Mt Juda and dropped rocks into the maw of the jaw crusher to watch them crack and turn to dust.

Over the last three years Alan Knowles has revisited with his camera the sites of his childhood exploits. He followed in the footsteps of his great great grandfather, Warden H.W.Robinson, who adjudicated on disputes and misdemeanours throughout Otago's goldfields. He trod the silent tailings of his father's family claim in the Kyeburn, and visited the sites of famous and infamous events, to exhume Otago's past in this suite of photographs.

Alan Knowles is a Queenstown-born photographer now based in Wellington. His documentary work has been published in most major New Zealand newspapers and magazines and numerous books. He was the organiser of Wellington´s fotofest 98 fringe representing independent photographers. His work is held in many private collections; and he is represented by Photospace Gallery and Idiom Studio in Wellington and the McNamara Gallery in Wanganui.


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