Tussock by Bruce Hunt
New Zealand is a beautiful country. One has to simply fly, drive, or boat any place around our shores and look out the window to see the wonders of nature at some of its absolute finest. We all have some kind of captured reverence taken with our smart phones somewhere in our photo collection: a waterfall, a river, a mountain, anything that captures our attention and our hearts. However, looking back, the image is never quite what we hoped, nor remember from the experience and what captivated us in the first place.
Bruce Hunt, however, is an expert at seeing the landscape and creating an immutable bond with it through the lens of his camera. In this collection, he presents the New Zealand we all know and love (and, indeed, as we all see it) in all its superlative natural glory - definitely not the swiped series of Ruapehu found in a cell phone.
Being Otago-based, much of the scenery explored is the transcendent beauty of the South Island. The towering peaks of the ranges and the gullied rivers that weave their way through the gorges.
As an artist, Hunt knows his landscapes. Also a painter, signature images from high station territory to isolated shelters are brought to life with the colours, angles and topography that make New Zealand the magnificent place that it is. His photography is an extension of himself, his penchant for quiet, still moments and adventurous spirit lived out through the collection. His ability to frame the backcountry in such a way that the reader feels engrossed within the landscape rather than experiencing it on a page is quite astonishing. It is as if one could literally reach out and touch the window sill, or the mountain range.
Presented predominately in black and white - although there are coloured images punctuated throughout the collection - the images are timelessly Kiwi and immensely personal. They seem to catch the landscape in what can only be described as vulnerable moments. A shyness and a tranquility that is equal parts comforting and eerie.
As a coffee table piece, the awe-inspiring images are a must have to celebrate what is most special to our country - its majesty.
The light play by Hunt is stunning. His aperture work and his tonal appreciation is impressive, capturing the fading light with precision and control. He presents some of the wildest country in the nation which draws out the mythical quality of the land and the connection between people and the whenua. From a technical standpoint, the elevated vantage point from which many images are taken captures the superlative beauty of the scenery but yet retains familiarity and connectivity.
Pieces of art such as this deserve high praise. There is much to lose yourself in, within the pages of this collection of New Zealand at its finest.
Reviewer: Chris Reed