On Now

Voyage into the Heartland: Photographic Works from the Batten Collection from Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki

Curated by Cameron S. Curd

Monday 5th February – Sunday 4th March 2018

‘The three Plunket babies’ – This image of the three ‘Plunket babies’ shows the three children taking time out for a much needed refreshment of ‘Orange Sparkle’ drink. This relaxed approach to this image is an interesting snapshot during a break between their long, 300 mile journey.

New Zealanders have always had a desire to travel and discover the undiscoverable. From the 1957 journey to Antarctica by adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary (1919-2008), to Turi’s voyage from Rangiatea to New Zealand over 700 years ago; we have voyaging within our veins.

Voyage into the Heartland showcases the Batten Collection, a unique photographic anthology exposing original landscapes of the 1930s unseen before in New Zealand. These landscape images speak of a time where landscape photography was in its infancy and still forging its own identity. This collection focuses both on powerful landscapes and intimate portraits achieving a great aesthetic approach to their photography where every image engages us, allowing us to immerse ourselves in their world.

‘Chateau and Buggy’ – The newly constructed grand Tongariro Chateau awaits the arrival of our weary visitors. In the early 1930’s this would have been both a welcome sight for the Batten family and a visually impressive one after living out of a tent for months.

During the early 1930’s the Batten family set out across the North Island of New Zealand with their camera and a horse called Judy to photograph recollection of the central region of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Their perspective is a particular one carrying us on a journey into early 20th century life in New Zealand with practical but sensitive objectivity. While their landscape images have a sense of objectivity and bleak isolation, their portraiture forms an affectionate bond between the photographers and subjects. This familiarity creates an unburdened, carefree outlook from each sitter they photograph. These experiences stretched out their understanding of the world around them and ultimately had a great effect on the family.

‘Huka Rapids above falls’ – This image was very thoughtfully constructed. The American photographer Ansel Adams specialised in landscape photography and this image imitates the spirit of his work with the raging waters and perfect adherence to the golden ‘rule of thirds’, an element Adam’s work was noted for.
‘Lions’ Point, Urenui, 1934′ – The aesthetic and stylistic touches in this image are breathtaking. The photographer here has taken careful consideration of lighting conditions, subject’s placement, and subject’s actions to create a stunning, iconographic image full of drama and danger; with the subject perched precariously with just a cliff-drop to the sea below.

‘Voyage into the Heartland: Photographic Works from the Batten Collection’ will be travelling to the Lysaght-Watt Gallery in Hāwera from 7 February – 4 March 2018. Come and discover the photographic works of the Batten Family from Tokaora. New Zealanders have always had a desire to travel and discover the undiscoverable. From the 1957 journey to Antarctica by adventurer Sir Edmund Hillary(1919-2008), to Turi’s voyage from Rangiatea to New Zealand over 700 years ago, we have voyaging deep within our veins.

During the early 1930s the family set out across the North Island of New Zealand with their camera and a horse called Judy to photograph the central region of the Land of the Long White Cloud. Their perspective is a particular one, carrying us on a journey into early 20th century life in New Zealand with practical but sensitive objectivity. While their landscape images have a sense of objectivity and bleak isolation, their portraiture shows an affectionate bond between the photographers and subjects. This familiarity creates an unburdened, carefree outlook from each sitter they photograph. These experiences stretched their understanding of the world around them and ultimately had a great effect on the family.

‘Voyage into the Heartland’ showcases the Batten Collection, a unique photographic anthology exposing original landscapes of the 1930s unseen before in New Zealand. These landscape images speak of a time where landscape photography was in its infancy and still forging its own identity.

“This collection focuses both on powerful landscapes and intimate portraits achieving a great aesthetic approach to their photography where every image engages us, allowing us to immerse ourselves in their world.” – Cameron S. Curd, Exhibition Curator.