Laurence Aberhart, Interior #9, Matakohe, Kaipara Harbour, 6 December 2006

SII Laurence Aberhartd.jpg
SII Laurence Aberhartd.jpg

Laurence Aberhart, Interior #9, Matakohe, Kaipara Harbour, 6 December 2006

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Limited edition digital print on 310gsm Ilford Galerie Smooth Cotton Archival Paper 

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“I saw a brief news item on TV about Miss Mavis Smith, aged 94 at the time. Watching it and seeing the interior of the house that Miss Smith was in, I commented that I would ‘just about kill to get inside such a place’. A couple of weeks later my wife, having a conversation with another lady sitting next to her at a lunch counter in Whangarei and learning that the lady came from Matakohe, passed on my comment. That lady said that she was a friend of Miss Smith’s and would organise it. A month or so later my wife and I turned up and introduced ourselves, myself, the photographer and, on seeing Miss Smith’s garden, my wife as a gardener. Miss Smith responded by saying for me to do whatever I wanted and for my wife to follow her to the garden.”

‘Totara House’ was built in 1896 of solid kauri, named as such because it sits at the mouth of a small gully filled with never-milled totara. The Smiths were one of the largest local sawmillers – responsible for clearing the landscape of kauri and totara – and the house was built with kauri from their mill. Miss Smith, the last of her family, was born and lived all her life in this house. Still completely original, with only minor modernising of the kitchen, the interior was originally shellac varnished throughout. Totara House was bequeathed by Mavis Smith to The Kauri Museum, Matakohe, and can be visited by appointment.

Well established as one of New Zealand’s leading photographers, Laurence Aberhart began photographing in the late 1960s. Amongst contemporary photographers Aberhart stands out for his longstanding commitment to traditional photographic processes, shooting in black & white with an ancient Korona 8 x 10” view camera, and developing both the large format negatives and prints himself. His long exposures and centred compositions result in distinctive images, rich in texture and detail. He has described his role as a photographer as that of “being of one who was to notice change and record that which could be lost from collective memory.” Since 1983 Aberhart has lived and worked from Russell in the Bay of Islands, travelling regularly both within New Zealand and overseas to photograph.