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Lights On, Nobody Home - Idiom Studio


Lights On, Nobody Home ­ new work by Pippa Sanderson
At Idiom Studio, 1 ­ 23 November

Attached: Unheimlich #2, digital print, 80 x 80cm, 2002

There is still no trace of the five paintings by Wellington artist Pippa Sanderson, stolen from the Manawatu Art Gallery two months ago, but the theft has not stopped Pippa from working. A new exhibition of photo-based works opens at Idiom Studio on Friday 1 November.

These large and lustrous digital prints, produced with the support of Wellington firm Toolbox Imaging, are enlarged from polaroids and slides shot in an uninhabited house in Island Bay. Pippa rented the house from the City Council as a base for work on her Masters of Fine Arts at Massey University.

“The house was built in 1907,” she says. “Around that time many colonists from the UK, including my great-grandparents, were experimenting with spirit photography ­ attempting to capture images of ghosts and other spirit presences on film.” Pippa’s extraordinary photoworks have some of the dreamy, indeterminate quality of these Victorian spirit photographs.

She has made sculptures in the house using the detritus of past tenants, and photographed them with a faulty Polaroid camera, on post-dated film. This “decayed technology” has produced unique and remarkably beautiful images, with recognisable shapes dissolving into fluid patterns and the flat plane of the developing chemicals.

Pippa says her images, “are the result of the environment acting directly on the photographic plate. In the same way, spirit photographers claimed the images of spirits appeared directly on their negatives, with no intervention by the photographer.

“I’m trying to point to the belief in the other-worldly held by some Victorian colonists, like my great-grandfather. His family practised seances in the drawing room until his wife Rose put a stop to the practice by evicting a particularly unpleasant ghost.”

The exhibition runs until 23 November.


For more information, photographs of artworks or to interview the artist, contact Mark Derby, ph. (04) 939 1215 or (027) 279 049, Idiom Studio, 26 Elizabeth St, Mt Victoria

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