Ann Shelton’s internationally recognised large-scale, hyper real photographic works operate at the nexus of conceptual and documentary modes, investigating the social, political and historical contexts that inform readings of the landscape and its contents. Shelton, born in Timaru, is recognised as one of New Zealand’s leading photographic artists. Having gained her MFA from The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, Shelton’s work is regularly seen in New Zealand and internationally in countries as diverse as China, Lithuania, Italy, England, Poland, Germany, Australia and Canada. She is Associate Professor in Photography at Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University in Wellington and Chairperson of Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington’s longest running artist-run space.
Shelton’s background as a press photographer has informed her interest in the genre of documentary photography as it intersects with a photographic practice driven by ideas. In a critique of documentary’s claimed objectivity, and marking a shift away from what Henri Cartier Bresson has called the ‘decisive moment’, Shelton is less concerned with depiction of an event and more interested in capturing what has been termed the ‘aftermoment.’ Her interest in photographing historically loaded sites generates works that refuse to visually represent an event as it occurred, alluding instead to what might have happened by adopting absence as a photographic device. This strategy prompts a different kind of looking, foregrounding the importance of the viewer’s engagement in creating meaning in a photograph.
Shelton’s major project ‘a library to scale’ toured New Zealand and Australia in 1997. In 2009 her series ‘Public Places in Images Recalled (Bilder auf Abruf)’ was exhibited in Germany’s largest photographic biennale, curated by Tobias Berger and Esther Ruelfs. In 2010 Shelton co-edited the publication ‘Sightseeing: an exhibition and a publication of postcards that explore the representation of place in contemporary German and New Zealand photography’ – this group show included her work among eight German and eight New Zealand artists. Shelton’s work was included in ‘Dark Sky’, curated by Geoffery Batchen and Tina Barton in 2012 at The Adam Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand. In 2013, the exhibition ‘The City of Gold and Lead’ at Wanganui’s Sarjeant Gallery was accompanied by an adjunct installation for New Plymouth’s Govett-Brewster Contemporary Museum of Art titled ‘doublethink’, a series of consecutive billboards on the side of S.H.3 in Taranaki’s Midhurst. Shelton’s ongoing body of work ‘in a forest’, has been seen in London, Berlin, Sydney, Melbourne, and Auckland, and will be shown this year at ‘Espai d’art contemporani de Castello’, Spain.
Shelton lives and works in Wellington, New Zealand.