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Back Roads

Browsing the local galleries one sees a preponderance of touristy subject matter - beach scenes, Pohutukawa blossoms etc. Evidently it sells - it caters to a market hungry for New Zealand clichés. But what does it say of our country?

Beach images foster nostalgia for past holidays. But in reality, the coast is only the border of our land and a small amount of our time is spent there.

This subject matter is escapist or idealised. But what of the environment in which we live out our daily lives?

Back roads are being sealed and often subdivided. This is the heart of the New Zealand countryside and it is changing.

In the last year or two I have set myself the task of photographically capturing the back roads of the area in which I live - Leigh, north of Auckland.

Frequently, a year or so after I've shot something, it has changed or vanished. Photography can record our time - and that is what I've been trying to do with this project. So I don't consider myself a landscape photographer, but a documentary photographer, first and foremost.

My work is emphatically local. Partly this is a result of illness necessitating short trips with my camera. But there has been an advantage to keeping it local: by concentrating on subject matter that I know best, my work has been able to be more insightful than it might otherwise have been.

Thursday 5th June 2008

Richard Smallfield

Born in 1965, Richard took up photography as a teenager, documenting his tramping trips while at school and, later, while becoming over-educated studying Law and Politics at Auckland University.

Since graduating from university in the late '80s his photographic activities have been curtailed by illness (ME). Today he devotes as much time and energy as possible to the pursuit of photographic projects.

His work primarily spans documentary-landscape and environmental portraiture. Future projects are planned in the documentary genre.

In 2005 Richard exhibited alongside the Mahurangi Group of artists, for whom he did a series of portraits and in 2006 he exhibited at Matakana Pictures Gallery. He has also exhibited around Warkworth at Art's Desire and Matakana Gallery and at the Leigh Sawmill, where his first back roads exhibition was held. In January he participated in the Photoforum exhibition held at the Digital Darkroom in Auckland.