Stills Gallery Presents Anne Noble: At the End of the Earth

At the End of the Earth continues Anne Noble’s fascination with the continent of Antarctica. White Lanterns showed at Stills Gallery in May 2006. This work depicted the surreal way the Antarctic was portrayed in museums and research centres around the world and tapped into our fascination with this vast place.

At the End of the Earth takes a similarly oblique approach in its refusal to romanticise the landscape, by focussing on manmade interventions into the pristine terrain. The work comprises three series of images made in the summer of 2008. Exhibition open through 25 September 2010.

Central to the installation are six large photographs of piss poles, taken at various US research locations. Yellow pee flags are a common sight in many remote field camps in Antarctica. They have a utilitarian function yet these images take on the appearance of abstract paintings. The images reference the performative marking out of territory and are a discursive commentary about the physical and gendered nature of our relationship to place.

Accompanying the piss poles a stridently colourful grid of images depicts transport vehicles branded with women’s names like Hazel, Patsy and Brenda further challenge our romance with the heroic age. In a third series Noble portrays landscapes of the artificially constructed roads and towns that the trucks inhabit. The colonial wild west seems alive and well in Antarctica.

Anne Noble’s fascination with researching and photographing Antarctica has been alive since 2001. She explores the cultural construction of place with biting intent. Her images challenge the traditional representation of the Antarctic as heroic, picturesque and sublime and draw attention to historical and contemporary politics of land and place.

Long recognised as a major figure in New Zealand photography, Wellington-based Anne Noble is an internationally renowned artist. Noble’s work ranges from her well-known romantic 1982 essay exploring the Whanganui River to a graceful photo essay about the contemplative life of nuns, to photographs of her daughter Ruby and most recently to an exploration of the notion of the Antarctic.

Noble has addressed a remarkable range of issues in her work – from landscape to religion, from the personal to the political. Throughout, her art has been distinguished by its formal beauty, its rigorous ethics, its feeling for the textures of the world and the play of light over them.

In 2008, Noble had a solo exhibition at the Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne, entitled Anne Noble: Antarctic Photographs. This was a continuation from Noble’s exhibition White Lantern (Stills 2006), in which she explored the idea of Antarctica as a place that exists in the imagination, formed through exposure to photographs, stories and the occasional encounter with models and screens.

In 2003 Anne Noble traveled to Antarctic museums and research centres world-wide investigating and photographing representations of Antarctica. In 2005, traveling to Antarctica as part of a Creative New Zealand grant, Noble framed the landscape with reference to her collection of photographs of Antarctica as an imaginary place. In doing so, she mimicked the process by which any traveler comes to know and understand a place through the photographic image.

During 2008 White Lantern featured in exhibitions focusing on art and environmentalism, including Heat: Art and Climate Change, RMIT Gallery and The Ecologies Project, Monash University Museum of Art, in Melbourne.

Her first exhibition at Stills (2004) included images from the ongoing series, Ruby’s Room. The large and highly coloured, visceral images present an alternative view of childhood innocence and unseen rites of passage. Noble’s interest lies in exploring the reaction of the adult viewer to those playful and innocent images, which are often perceived to be confronting and provocative. In 2007-2008, a selection of work from Ruby’s Room was exhibited at Musée du quai Branly, Paris as part of the Photoquai Biennale.

Noble’s work is included in major public and private collections throughout New Zealand, and has been shown in a number of significant group exhibitions (In Glorious Dreams, 2001; Asia-Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, 1993; Pacific Parallels, 1991; Views/Exposures, 1983). Noble’s major photographic essays have frequently become touring solo shows, including The Wanganui, 1982; In the Presence of Angels, 1989, Hidden Lives: the Work of Care, 1994; and Te Hikoi O Kati Kuri, 1998.

In 1999 she was a prize-winner in the James Wallace Art Award, and in 2002 Noble travelled to Antarctica as part of the Artists to Antarctica scheme.

A retrospective of Anne Noble’s worked toured leading public galleries thoughout New Zealand during 2002-03. The book ‘States of Grace’ was produced to accompany this exhibition. In 2003 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography in New Zealand.

Image: Anne Noble Piss Poles, Antarctica, Aurina #1, 2008 from Piss Poles, Antarctica Inkjet print – pigment on paper,78.7 x 100cm, edition of 5, Stills Gallery

Stills Gallery
36 Gosbell Street
Paddington NSW 2021
phone 61-2-9331 7775
fax 61-2-9331 1648

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