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P9: HARRY CULY

Rose Hill 2017
colour photographs

Harry Culy’s ongoing series of photographs, Rose Hill, concentrates on the Hawke’s Bay, an area he visited regularly as a child (the series is named after his grandmother’s farm at Maraekakaho, near Hastings). Chosen and composed with the utmost care, the images are immediately elegant, but they also possess a haunting quality, hovering between celebration and lament. Swimming pool, Woodville (2017), for instance, teases out the poetry and style of a mid-century pool complex viewed on a wintery day, while also suggesting a community that receives no lavish government funding, that is not in a position to refresh its facilities, let alone build new ones.

Onga Onga Tearooms similarly mixes charming nostalgia with uncomfortable staidness. There’s a welcoming quality to the room (you can practically taste the buttery scones), but it is also marked by a lingering air of colonialism, with its insipid, faux English decor and all those images of churches and cottages on the wall. Interior, Putorino Pub evokes a different, if adjacent, culture. Again, all is tidy, despite being past its prime. Emptied of real people, Culy’s photograph highlights the communicative power of spaces, while paradoxically suggesting the limitations of judgements made on the surface of things – challenging us to texture our understanding of New Zealand’s ‘provinces’.

Harry Culy is represented by Parlour Projects, Hastings.

Image courtesy of the artist and Parlour Projects.

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