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Rick Alexander photographs;
First edition 2007 as new

ABOUT ten years ago the book A Century of Images was released. It was a loose history of New Zealand photography taken from the archives at Te Papa. Amongst those represented were the familiar, both names and images, and the unknown. The opening image is a dramatic shot of a sand dune, with beautiful textures, lovely tones, and heavy vignetting, which while looking recent, could have been taken at any point in the last 100 or so years.

While I couldn’t have told you who the photographer was (even though his name is on the page opposite), that image has stuck with me. And that same image is the second plate in Hinterland, reproduced here in pure black and white, minus the blue-green cast of the earlier publication. It looks even better and sets the tone for the images that follow.

Alexander studied photography in the mid-1970s and has quietly been doing his own thing since. Though he hasn’t been a regular exhibitor his work has been shown in some prestigious galleries and is in some important collections. The self-published Hinterland brings together 64 of his images taken between 1978 and 2002.

All the works are landscapes, not the big sweeping vistas of the souvenir book, but details of this country – landforms, buildings, views, interiors, animals. Sure you can see the influence of Aberhart and Peryer and, to a degree, Morrison, but these photographers are his contemporaries, and Alexander makes his works his own rather than mere copies. I can even see the pictorialism of George Chance in a some of the pieces, an influence many ‘serious’ or ‘art’ photographers would probably not wish to announce so loudly.

Most of the works are black and white images and they’ve been sequenced in a fairly logical and obvious way. I’m torn as to whether this is a good thing or not. It certainly makes the read an agreeable one, but possibly that’s a problem. To help break up the easy flow, little colour images are used as punctuation between subjects. Please click here to ask a question
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  • Seller location: Wellington City, Wellington, NZ

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