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Laurence Aberhart

Laurence Aberhart describes himself as “an eclectic collector of cultural debris, as it washes up, and before it disappears.” Born in Nelson in 1949, Aberhart became interested in photography while training to be a primary school teacher in the early-1970s. He has been at the forefront of New Zealand photography since the late 1970s.

He first exhibited his work in the New Zealand photography survey show ‘The Active Eye’ (1975), with his first solo exhibition at Peter McLeavey Gallery in Wellington in 1978. Aberhart was the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Sarjeant Gallery’s Tylee Cottage in 1986.

Over the past 30 years Aberhart has been documenting the architecture of colonialism in ruin and decay, sites on the verge of disappearing, many of historical and/or cultural interest. He continues to look at such subjects as Masonic Lodges, marae, war memorials, cemetery statuary, colonial churches, and sea horizons. While there is an air of melancholy in his images, they are not without a wry humour.

Aberhart has travelled widely both in New Zealand and overseas. A 1988 Fulbright Fellowship allowed him to travel around America, and in 1993 he went to France as the Moet and Chandon Fellow. In 2000 he produced the series ‘Ghostwriting: Photographs of Macau’ after spending some time in the ex-Portuguese colony.

In 1999 he was artist in residence, Dunedin Public Art Gallery. 2007 saw the major survey show ‘aberhart’ and the publication of the accompanying book. Most recently he was an Artist to Antarctica Fellow in 2010.

Aberhart has been based in Russell since 1986 and continues to travel and exhibit extensively.

- images courtesy