The photographs in the series were taken between 2008 and 2010, during a time when I had very little time or money to dedicate to photography. The portfolio remains unfinished due to the Canterbury earthquakes. After such a life changing event, my mental space was so radically affected I no longer wanted to be a photographer, especially not one that stole photos of strangers on the street.
On the day before the big earthquake of February the 22nd 2011, I sat down with a series of disjointed photos and wrote the following statement. I had hoped that by intuitively responding to the images in front of me I might find a way forward with the work; that my words might hint at things I could photograph in order to flesh out a large project with some kind of unifying idea or feeling. While I still feel the two paragraphs I quickly knocked out indicate something of promise in the work, it’s a shame that large project will forever remain unrealised.
One of my earliest memories is of our family home in Blenheim. We lived on a back section and shared a long driveway with another property. A small concrete fence flanked by an unwieldly toi toi bush marked the division with our neighbours section. On our side of the fence, dark grey paving stones served as the perfect place to sunbathe after a swim in our Para-rubber swimming pool. I remember lying there, my stomach flat against the hot ground and the sun scorching my back. It seems a strange thing to remember fondly, but there, wearing my togs and lying face down on the ground, I’d urinate and watch as my piss seeped slowly through the cracks of the paving before evaporating. When my togs were dry, I got dressed. If I lay there any longer I knew my skin would burn. In those days, no one cared about sun block or talked about the ozone layer, but I knew all too well the dangers of New Zealand’s sun. Back then, it seemed sunburn was all there was to worry about.
Twenty-five years later, when the summer sun dips below the horizon and the smell of barbequed meat hangs in the air, it’s easy to forget how much New Zealand has changed, let alone how much I’ve grown. But, if the light is just right and I squint, I can still see myself lying on that hot patch of concrete. Thankfully, such visions don’t elicit the pungent smell of urine soaked togs. That’s one memory best resigned to the past.