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Mark Adams’ Cook’s Sites exhibition coming to Christchurch

Mark Adams 10.8.1988 Indian Island, after William Hodges’ “View in Dusky Bay” 1988.
Silver bromide fibre-based prints. Courtesy of the artist and Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland

An exhibition of powerful works from Mark Adams, one of New Zealand’s most significant photographers, is coming to Christchurch for the very first time.

The Christchurch Art Gallery will open Adams’ Cook’s Sites exhibition this Saturday (25 January) at 209 Tuam Street.

In his Cook’s Sites project, Adams photographs the South Island locations where Captain James Cook and his crew set foot during their voyages from 1768 to 1779.

The series of works explores the points of first contact between the British Empire and Māori that have become central to the foundational histories of New Zealand.

Christchurch Art Gallery Director Jenny Harper says the exhibition is a significant first for Christchurch and one that is particularly relevant for New Zealanders, as well as visitors wishing to learn more about New Zealand history.

Cook’s Sites illustrates why Mark Adams is one of New Zealand’s most distinguished photographers, and the Gallery is privileged to present the series in Christchurch for the first time,” she says.

“Through his expert lens, Adams offers viewers a unique window into New Zealand’s colonial past.

“In one of the works, and in stunning large-scale definition, he has photographed the very tree-stumps where Cook and his crew felled their first logs after landing at Dusky Sound over two centuries ago.

“The works are haunting and immersive, leaving open questions about what traces of these first encounters remain, and how we should read them,” she adds.

With his long-term collaborator, historical anthropologist Nicholas Thomas, Adams presents his photographs as part of a wider project alongside Thomas’ text. Together, the imagery and words grapple with the historical narratives that have shaped New Zealand’s identity.

Adams is renowned for his examination of issues surrounding New Zealand’s Māori and colonial histories.

Best known for his work on documenting Samoan tatau (tatooing), Māori–Pākehā interactions around Rotorua, and historic sites around New Zealand, Adams’ work has been extensively exhibited within New Zealand, as well as Europe, Australia and South Africa. His work has also featured in Brazil's São Paulo Art Biennial.

Adams, who currently lives in Auckland, was born in Christchurch and attended the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts between 1967 and 1970.

Cook’s Sites will be at 209 Tuam Street, Christchurch, from 25 January to 23 March.


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