Primary Products

11 August - 7 October 2007

Primary Products

Jim Allen, New Zealand Enviroment No. 5, 1969 Paratene Matchett, Te Wepu, 1986 Fiona Amundsen, installation view Fiona Amundsen, City Focus, Rotorua, 24/06/2007, 5:30 (waiting birds), 2007 Maddie Leach, One Shining Gum (Carterton) and One Shining Gum (Valparaiso), 2006 Maddie Leach, One Shining Gum, (Savia Brillante) 2006-07 John Johns, installation view John Johns, Odlins Timber Yard, Petone, 1963

Primary Products turned its attention to New Zealand’s exotic forests, and the products, industries, and trade they support.

As curator Christina Barton said, her aim was to “tease out new connections between the facts of New Zealand’s emergence as a modern industrial nation, and the history of art that accompanies this, to try to determine the nature of the relationship between modernisation and modernism in this country.”The exhibition included rarely-seen photographs by John Johns, who was the New Zealand Forest Service’s official photographer between 1951 and 1984 and a passionate advocate for the conservation of natural resources.

It also featured Jim Allen’s ground-breaking installation, New Zealand Environment No 5 (1969) which sets out to fully engage the spectator in a multi-sensory situation that radically re-conceives the very notion of landscape representation.

Ms Barton said she was especially privileged to be able to host Paratene Matchitt’s Te Wepu (1986). This major sculpture (which is 22 metres long) was first presented alongside the famous Te Maori exhibition on its return to New Zealand in 1986 and represents Matchitt’s pointed response to his cultural inheritance.

Maddie Leach presented for the first time an installation that was conceived for an event in Santiago, Chile but which never made it to its destination. One Shining Gum (2006) tracked the fascinating journey of a single tree from Wellington to Santiago, exposing New Zealand and Chile as rivals in the forestry trade and offering a poignant reminder about the practical hurdles that still exist to global trade.

Fiona Amundsen presented a suite of new photographs, especially commissioned for the show, that document the timber towns of Murupara, Kawerau and Rotorua in the central North Island, leaving us to ponder the legacy of recent history that has seen fundamental changes to the forestry industry.

This exhibition was accompanied by a one-day symposium, which brought together economists, environmentalists, scientists and historians to discuss a range of issues relevant to the show.

Download Primary Products Room Sheet, PDF

Download Primary Products Room Sheet no. 2, PDF