Land Marks | MTG 2014

Works from the Hawkes Bay Museums collection

Andrew Drummond and Adrienne Martyn join a long trajectory of artists who have been creatively inspired by the Hawke’s Bay landscape. In these two large-scale works from the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection, sculpture and photography take centre stage, transcending the traditional confines of the landscape genre.

Here the landscape becomes more than a picturesque setting - it is a vessel for stories of the past. Both Drummond and Martyn explore beyond the geography of a physical location, acknowledging the history and events that have changed and shaped it over the years. Martyn’s exploration is of a local landmark, the Tutaekuri river, while Drummond offers a more universal reflection on the environment, inspired by a visit to the Hawke’s Bay region.

Adrienne Martyn began photographing the Tutaekuri River when she was living in the region in 1999. She had previously been researching the Otatara Pa Historic Reserve as part of her photograph project ‘Otatara’, exhibited at the Hawke’s Bay Museum that same year. Martyn recalls having learnt about the many lives of the river and was inspired to investigate its past in a new photographic project titled ‘River’. In sixty-five digital images, Martyn explores what lies beyond the surface of this significant local landmark and the many chapters that have shaped its past.

It was during Martyn’s residency at the EIT Visual Art Department in 2000 that the first version of ‘River’ was shown. It was then purchased for the Hawke’s Bay Museums Trust collection in 2002. Adrienne Martyn is a nationally acclaimed photographer who has worked across many different photographic genres. ‘River’ continues the artist’s fascination with surface and structure and water as a focus of study.

Using the new medium of digital photography, Martyn has recorded the changing light and movement on the surface of the Tutaekuri River. These images become an exploration of pattern, texture, light and shadow, almost abstract in their individual composition. It is only in walking the length of the work that the large and horizontal format suggests the long channel of a river; the juxtaposed images an evocation of the unpredictable nature of its waters.

However, Martyn’s representation of the Tutarkuri river goes beyond a formal exploration. Her gridded format evokes that of an archeological site: a methodical mapping of a location and an exploration that delves into the depths of the river’s past. Though we only see the ripples of the water, each image seems to be cloaked in mystery, as though its stories lurk beneath the surface. Each panel reflects another aspect of the history of this river, another story that flows through its waters.

Lizzie Wratislav