An Aberhart photograph is one which is instantly recognisable. Laurence Aberhart captures the everyday, our past and our present all through atmospheric black and white photography. Despite the perceived quietness of his imagery, his ability to capture immense depth and detail is all down to the analogue process he employs along with a complex understanding on the effect of light, and an inherent ability to frame an image perfectly. This new exhibition features a selection of photographs with Masonic lodges as the protagonist taken from as far North as Kaitaia, down to Balclutha in Otago alongside photographs of Taranaki taken between 1986 to 2010.
Opening in September last year, the Christchurch Art Gallery exhibited unseen early photographs of Christchurch by Aberhart. In the corresponding publication, Aberhart Start Here, he discusses the importance of the Masonic lodges as a series that he has continuously worked on over the past 30 years - the very first photos of the lodges were initially taken in Christchurch in 1979. “The lodges have been neither a popular nor a commercial proposition for Aberhart, but he’s felt strongly about documenting them before they disappear completely from the social landscape,” writes Lara Strongman, senior curator at Christchurch Art Gallery. Throughout his travels across the country, he has captured hundreds of lodges in their various architectural forms and iterations.
The photographs of Taranaki are a stark contrast to the Masonic lodges; these are atmospheric and moody depicting a multitude of views of the mountain at various anchor points. Some of these are taken in what looks like a desolate, arid landscape, whereas others show the mountain in the background across a sea of city of lights, or seen across a cemetery.