Gone Home

CoCA, in partnership with City Gallery Wellington, is delighted to present Gone Home, curated by Robert Leonard and Gavin Hipkins, showcasing in a game of visual snap, the photographs of Hipkins and the late Peter Peryer. 

Gavin Hipkins shot the eighty images in The Homely II (2001–17) on sightseeing jaunts through New Zealand (his home) and the United Kingdom (the homeland). The Auckland photographer visited tourist spots and museums, as well as more humble and nondescript sites. In the UK, his itinerary took in iconic landscapes such as the Lake District and Scotland’s national parks, and industrial-revolution locations, like New Lanark and Ironbridge. In New Zealand, he visited Rotorua, the Moeraki boulders, Milford Sound, and several early-settlers museums. The project alludes to colonialism and empire, the legacies of industrial expansion, landscape traditions, and ideas of domesticity and family.

Principal Exhibition Partner

The Homely II is a sequel to Hipkins’s most celebrated work, The Homely (1997–2001), which also features eighty images, this time shot in New Zealand and Australia, as neighbouring British colonies. The Homely has featured in numerous shows in New Zealand, Australia, and the USA, and many of its images have become iconic. Shot with an amateur film camera, both Homelysare presented as friezes of abutted photos, suggesting cinematic narratives—albeit broken, fragmentary, unhinged ones. While Hipkins described The Homely as a ‘postcolonial gothic novel’, he feels The Homely II is more of a ‘Victorian melodrama’. Where The Homely was underpinned by Freud’s idea of the uncanny, he says its sequel is engaged more with Mark Fisher’s notion of the eerie—things out of place. A key image, The Homely: Clandon (Hinemihi), shows an historical Maori meeting house transposed into the English countryside.

 

The Homely II debuted in City Gallery Wellington's 2018 show, This Is New Zealand. It is now on tour. At each venue, it will be supplemented with other works. At CoCA, it will be accompanied by Hipkins’s film work Road through a Wood (2019), plus a selection of some fifty classic photos by the late New Zealand photographer Peter Peryer. 

 

Hipkins and Peryer belong to different generations. Peryer is essentially a photographer of the analogue-photography period, while Hipkins spans the transition from analogue into digital. Peryer emerged in the 1970s, at a time when photography was struggling to assert its place in the art scene. He is known for making analogue black-and-white photos, which he presents matted and glazed, in frames—as singular images of singular subjects. Hipkins emerged in the 1990s, when photography was well-and-truly part of art, and when photography was becoming wall scale and installational. He emphasises repetition, presenting images in ensembles and installations, drawing attention to novel ways that photos can be exhibited. 

 

However, the similarities are as significant. Hipkins and Peryer photograph New Zealand. They are tourists of photography—they take photographs on their travels, but also tour the history, conventions, and concerns of photography, as if it were akin to a landscape. They are self-consciously quotational, favouring subjects already photographed; echoing images that went before them. They move between photographic registers (from the pictorial to the abstract to the documentary to the snapshot). They imbue their images with a sense of belatedness and melancholy. There are also explicit rhymes between their projects. The show includes two photo-sequences Peryer made using an amateur camera—Mars Hotel and Gone Home (both 1975)—anticipating Hipkins’s Homelys. There are also Peryer images of two subjects Hipkins would shoot for The Homely II: the Alexandra Clock and the Moeraki boulders.

Gone Home has been curated by Gavin Hipkins and Robert Leonard, and toured by City Gallery Wellington, with support from the Peryer Estate, generous lenders, and Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland.