A Warm Welcoming Feeling
As part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, Two Rooms presents an exhibition by Conor Clarke, one of New Zealand’s most promising emerging photographers. The exhibition, A Warm Welcoming Feeling, continues Clarke’s interest in subjects typically deemed unattractive, which she masterfully transmutes into the remarkable through a considered use of compositional framing, juxtaposition, and light. This latest body of work was completed during Clarke’s Auckland Regional Council Residency in 2015 at Waitawa Park, which was further supported by Creative New Zealand.
Specialising in on-site and observational photography that sees her consistently questioning notions of beauty and the sublime, Clarke states that she is “preoccupied with finding beauty in the unspectacular.” The current exhibition continues this interest with Clarke focussing on botanical species and vistas in and around Waitawa Park that have resulted from human intervention and import. Scarred landscapes, tangles of gorse, and the quarry on Karamuramu Island in the Hauraki Gulf feature prominently in the series. Documenting a sequence of visual encounters between nature and industry, A Warm Welcoming Feeling reinvigorates the dialogue around land use and purpose, as well as speaking to the history, effects, and changes on New Zealand landscape that have been brought about by occupation, defence, farming, and restoration.
Along with all subjects being site-specific to Waitawa Regional Park, Clarke chose to use traditional processes and develop all works on location, fashioning a darkroom in her studio. Clarke’s practice has repeatedly seen her using time-honoured methods and techniques, such as hand-printed black and white analogue photographs, which provides an additional element of craftsmanship and visual interest.
Graduating from Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, in 2005, Conor Clarke has exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Germany and Turkey. She has been the recipient of numerous photography awards including the 2004 Mt Eden Young Artist Award, the 2007 Metro Canon Young Photographers Award and the prestigious international Renaissance Photography Prize in 2015.