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Ellie Smith: Clearing


Tue 15 Nov 2011, 10:00am–4:00pm
Wed 16 Nov 2011, 10:00am–4:00pm
Thu 17 Nov 2011, 10:00am–4:00pm
Fri 18 Nov 2011, 10:00am–4:00pm
Sat 19 Nov 2011, 11:00am–4:00pm

Where: Photospace, Level 1, 37 Courtenay Place, Wellington

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

Listed by: James Gilberd

Something has been cleared for us - what will it show?
Standing on the edge of something new.

When I was a child we spent long days making huts in the pine trees up behind our place. In winter we collected the cones for the fire and every December we decorated a carefully selected branch that would make our house look and smell like Christmas.

As I grew up I learned, in a flip sort of way, to hate the pines with their neat rows spreading over newly bulldozed land. An invasion. Another wave of colonisation replacing the diverse landscapes with monocultural forestry blocks.

Lately I haven't felt so easy with this dismissal.

As I drive through the forests north of Taupo I am compelled to stop and photograph scenes of barren destruction that I have seen before in early NZ photos of land clearing. Are we destined to dumbly repeat ourselves; am I ignoring some sort of warning; or is it just the balance being righted as iwi are awarded new forests to replace stolen ancient ones?

On walks with my family I recognise scenes from my own childhood and the anxious old-world stories of lost and enchanted children - stories that now so easily fit the shape of my own parental fears.

And what does it mean to climb an old pa site and a find a trig station, overcome by huge pines and on the edge of a clearing?

I get the feeling that there is something here for us to understand, if we stop the movement and look - like archaeologists who read the decline of civilisations in common cooking pot shards found in the rubbish dumps of old sites.

"a clearing... a world we haven't yet learned to read, where meaning still seems to be gathering itself..."
- 'a Clearing' R Meeks Nazareli Press, Tuscon, 2008

- Ellen (Ellie) Smith

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