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Peter Peryer

Genre: Photography

Country of Origin: New Zealand

Photographer Peter Peryer was born in Auckland in 1941, and grew up in South Auckland and Northland. He began studying science at University of Otago in 1961, before moving back to Auckland and switching to English and Education at University of Auckland, later training as a teacher.

In the early 1970s he took up photography while relieving at Otahuhu Intermediate, being taught darkroom techniques by a couple of students. In 1974 he was recommended a workshop run by John B. Turner, photographer, lecturer, and co-founder of PhotoForum, which led to further formal and informal training.

The individualistic stance of Peryer’s work was recognised very soon after. He was featured in the 1975 touring exhibition ‘The Active Eye: Contemporary New Zealand Photography’. His work was regularly published in PhotoForum magazine, and in 1977 Lower Hutt’s Dowse Art Gallery mounted the first survey of his work with ‘Peter Peryer: An Introduction’.

Portraiture was a prominent feature of his early work, including many self-portraits and photographs of his then-wife Erika. The style suggested a sense of anxiety and dislocation, the NZ Gothic. Later his work became more abstract, taking natural features and animals as his subjects, repeatedly playing with scale and repetition, producing images which often still had a stark and slightly menacing feel, though some are not without humour.

In 1995 the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Germany produced the major survey exhibition and publication ‘Second Nature’, which toured Germany, Australia, and New Zealand. Further solo and group shows followed, both nationally and internationally.

Peryer received the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography in 1997. In 2000 he was among the first recipients of the Arts Foundation Laureate Award alongside such luminaries as composer Gillian Whitehead and choreographer Douglas Wright.

In 2007 he was awarded a four month William Hodges Fellowship at the Southland Museum and Art gallery in Invercargill. The following year he was awarded the Henderson Arts Trust Residency, allowing him to live and work in Alexandra for a year. 2008 also saw the publication of ‘Peter Peryer: Photographer’ by Auckland University Press, primarily a survey of works created since ‘Second Nature’.

Peryer is based in Taranaki and maintains a busy exhibition schedule.