Central Otago artist Grahame Sydney explores photography
instead of painting in his ''Close to Home'' exhibition in
the Lakes District Museum and Gallery, Arrowtown, from
September 6 to October 31. Photo by James Beech.
New Zealand artist Grahame Sydney offers fresh
perspectives on his beloved Central Otago through photography,
instead of paintings, in a new exhibition opening in Arrowtown
The Dunedin-born artist presents ''Close to Home'', a
collection of 52 colour photographs taken over the past five
years, depicting people and places within a 50km radius of
Dramatic Central Otago landscapes feature widely, in addition
to eight portraits full of character of his neighbours and a
series of studies of Blackstone Hill Cemetery, which dates
back to the gold rush.
Arrowtown is also close to the artist's heart. The crib used
by the Sydney family since the 1960s is still the site for
family holidays and the village has been a second home since
he was 12.
The self-described ''professional observer'' and ''painter
first who takes photos on the way'' uses digital SLR cameras,
but remembers producing his own film photographs in the
darkroom he created out of his mother's kitchen as a boy.
''As I've got older, and I'm in my 40th year of full-time
work, I've found I don't need to go far from home to find
things that move me,'' Sydney said.
''That's down to a greater love of where you belong.''
People were gaining an appreciation of the beauty of Central
Otago, where once it was regarded as little more than a
wasteland, he said.
''One of the magnetic appeals of New Zealand is the patchwork
of our separate regional landscapes and how close they are
''Living near St Bathans, we live with nature as our whole
environment and become very sensitive to its seasonal changes
- light, climate and mood changes, without having to travel
Asked if the proliferation of cameras cheapened the art of
photography, Sydney said he did not promote himself as a
great photographer, he did not digitally manipulate the
outcomes and avoided taking images other photographers would.
''It's really important territory to think about because the
cameras are so capable now and will present a perfectly
acceptable technical picture,'' he said.
''That means it becomes harder to establish your own
''When all the basic competencies are provided by the
machine, what have you got left to make it undeniably your
''You've got to show what it's like being you, not show you
can be like someone else.''