Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The One That Got Away

This image was to be part of the Tauranga exhibition, but it does not enlarge to AO size as well as I would like. Ah well..
(Click on image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Guest Appearances

Show opening next Friday at Laundromat Art Project Space in Tauranga.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Fertile Matters

Have been doing a bit of photography for Scott Chamberlin, Professor of Art and Art History at the University of Colorado. He is currently at Unitec as Visiting Professor and Artist in Residence in the Contempoary Craft programme. This image is published in the Summer 2009 issue of Artnews with an article by Virginia Were.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Photographed some vases for Deborah Dell last Friday. She was great to work with, and I like her vases very much. Some of her latticework vases are on show at Objectspace, Ponsonby Road, until December 16.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Took this photo through a window when I was in Christchurch recently. I would have liked to have got permission to photograph this interior properly, but I was only in town a couple of nights and didn't have my 5x4 camera with me.

If you click on the image to enlarge it will become apparent that the entire floor area is covered in pigeon shit and feathers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A discussion with Tabatha Forbes and Allan Smith

I really wanted to inbed this video, but at the moment I can't figure out how. So here is a link to footage of Tabatha Forbes being interviewed by Allan Smith at the George Fraser Gallery during our Outside show. There is a nice wee pan at the end in the room with my work, after some fairly lousy still shots.

Pink Bush

A new (ish) image. I like it, but I should have shot with less depth of field than I did. There is a gnarly rhododendron in Glendene I will shoot this weekend, if the owners give me permission.
(Click on the image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Glaister Ennor Graduate Art Awards

I was thrilled to win the Barfoot & Thompson Award a couple of weeks back, thanks to Glaister Ennor and OREX Gallery. The judges were John Daly-Peoples and Rex Armstrong. Daly-Peoples was very perseptive about my work, which was most refreshing after years of being asked what my work is 'about'.

Unfortunately on the gallery website the reproduction of my work isn't so great, but the other winners' work looks good.

(From left to right: the chap from Barfoot & Thompson (apologies for not recalling the name), Bibi Ashger (Glaister Ennor staff chice award), Matthew Carter (Glaister Ennor Award), John Daly-Peoples, Rex Armstrong, and myself.)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Blue Morning Glory

This photograph is part of It's a Draw, currently hanging at Artstation until the end of Saturday. Unfortunately my name is misspelt in all promotional material, and this seemed unable to be altered. I had a prize giving to attend the same night as the Artstation opening, so I perhaps paid this mistake less heed than I should have.

Paul Pachter folded the image for the exhibition, and I will post a photograph of this sometime next week.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Karen Crisp in Private Converstaion

Gina Ferguson wrote this for the Outside catalogue. The image above is Kahikatea (paintball), referred to in the essay. Anzac Valley and Rotorua (Tikitapu) are viewable on previous blog posts.

Karen Crisp operates primarily within a post-documentary photographic practice. The photograph provides a scene for examination of the land and the mediated relationships that form through the physical, historical, personal and associative meanings it conjures in the viewer.

Large format lets you see all sorts of stuff, at times you begin to look at details with greater attention than if you were there. This lets you examine the greater scope with an eye for looking beyond the foreground and beneath the surface. When I travel I am always looking at landscapes, and of course it is difficult to be constantly looking for that which has been lost. How to photograph something that is not there? (1)

In these landscapes mediation is primarily sought through absence. The loss of habitat, culture, innocence or the complexities of personal loss, constructs a space that is rich in a history of meaning. These sites are now contestable spaces. Kahikatea (paintball) is photographed on farmland in Te Aroha, the fence is constructed on contested land; it is the target of young boys’ play. The mock fight of childhood parodies the complex adult negotiations over land, the fence signifying the cultural divisions that remain. The irony within Kahikatea (paintball) is also evident in Rotorua (Tikitapu). The familiarity of the typical New Zealand bush clad mountains shrouded in mist is an apt background for the muddied reflection in the lake, reminding us that land negotiations remain unclear. Crisp draws our attention to the raft, somewhat askew, empty, drifting upon a lake it operates as a platform from which youth spring into the deeper unknown shifting waters. Once occupied and echoing with laughter it now resonates in the silence of the departed.

These are places that I have visited, they are all sites of play. (2)

Loss of innocence upon entrance into an adult world is reiterated in the abandoned playhouse that features in Anzac Valley. The playhouse, an icon of childhood occupancy is also a reminder of the human desire to inhabit and lay claim to a place. To want, have and to hold, finally own, if only to let go again. This sentiment is echoed in the empty birdcage; in looking you see what is missing, absent or like the bird, recently flown.
Crisp oscillates between the occupant and the absent which is encapsulated in a type of visual poetry. She seduces us into a safe world through the comfort of the familiar, the sentimentality of childhood memories, idealized landscapes and our own backyard, to then shift the ground in the eyes of the viewer; for these are no ordinary landscapes.

1 & 2: Karen Crisp in private conversation, May 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Inside Out

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

John Hurrel has recently reviewed the George Fraser exhibition on his eyeCONTACT blog: "a forum built to encourage art reviews and critical discussion about the visual culture of Aotearoa New Zealand." This is what he had to say about my work:

Karen Crisp’s very precise coloured images first impressed me in a Bath Street group show last year. These photographs too are remarkable. They have a subtle dreamlike (or fairytale) quality, a sense of otherworldliness. Their haunting atmosphere draws you back for repeated viewings - for their dimension of strange ‘oddness’ is hard to put your finger on. They are not creepy, just very mysterious. Nor are they ‘over the top.’ Everything is tightly controlled, nuanced and discreet.

The rest can be found here.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Outside Invitation

Click on the image to enlarge.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009


I found my London series of photographs on the PhotoForum website the other day. I had almost forgotten that they have been archived there. I submitted the work to the up:date// The Active Eye photography survey, not long after returning to NZ after nearly a decade in London. This series of work was submitted for my BA examination when I was studying at the London College of Communication. I can't seem to link to my page, but by clicking on search, artists or categories can be found. A friend helped with the Photoshop, and it is much more crunchy than my personal aesthetic. I avoid the unsharp mask.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Government Gardens

Government Gardens, as seen in the Elam installation shot I posted earlier in the week. I'm about to leave on a photographic trip now; no internet where I'm going so next post will be on Tuesday when I get back.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Anzac Valley

And this is the promo shot on the George Fraser Gallery website.

Outside #2

The image I wanted to post yesterday. (Click on image to enlarge.) This was last year when our river flooded. I think it's the third or fourth time that water has run through the playhouse over the last few years - I guess we should move it. Would quite like to keep chickens in it sometime.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009


I cannot post any photographs from the pc I am working on today, which is getting increasingly frustrating. I will however provide a link to the George Fraser Gallery, where I am having a show with Tabatha Forbes mid-May. Will post some images when I can.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I was alerted the other day that some of my work is amongst that featured on the National Institute of Creative Arts and Industries (NICAI) website. It is included in the Elam Open Days 2008 Showcase, which is well worth a look.

The large work, Tarawera,is about to be split between family members. The image on the left is titled Government Gardens and is a photograph of the fence that runs along the gardens in central Rotorua. I will post a clearer version of this image later in the week. This image is approximately 840mm x 1200mm, and Tarawera is close to four times this size.

Monday, April 6, 2009

My Brother's War

Saw Jessica Hines speak to a room full of photographers this morning about her body of work My Brother's War. She is a great speaker. I am hoping she will inspire more of the students to make work in areas of deep and personal interest, rather than adopting recent visual trends from overseas, which seems to happen at times and can lead to work that is difficult to engage with.

Jessica talked of travelling to the house where her brother died for the first time to take photographs for My Brother's War, which exactly parallels my experience. I had never been to the house where my brother took his own life until I was compelled to for my project, nor had I been (or even really known) where his ashes were scattered.

When The Shore was first exhibited at Artstation I was moved at the way my work encouraged others to tell their stories. A woman talked to me about her adult schizophrenic son and the pain he suffers, and some of the difficulties of living with mental illness. Others talked of visiting relatives in Carrington Hospital, as I had.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Shore

In 2004 I made a series of work about the loss of Ian, my brother. This image is titled Westlake Boys High School and was one of a series of seven framed 16" x 20" handprints. When I first showed The Shore at Artstation in Ponsonby I had the text enlarged to AO, and hung the seven black-framed images close together in a line. The text and images can be found on the Matakana Pictures website which is still up and running, though unfortunately the gallery is not.

Prix Pictet Statement

The Kahikatea Series is a suite of photographs taken over a two-year period that focuses on land-use issues in the Waikato and environs, and specifically in relation to the depletion of the kahikatea (Dacrycarpus dacrydioides). Key themes include landscape as a history of ecological disruption; the loss of biological complexity and of habitats; and landscape as primarily marked by absence.

As a species Dacrycarpus dacrydioides is older than the hills; it has been discovered in the fossil record to date from Gondwanan times. In the words of New Zealand ecologist and historian Geoff Park:

Kahikatea is the supreme survivor. The fruit basket of the forest, revered by Maori hunters and modern conservationists for its attractiveness to birds, connects us to a birdless, flowerless world in which huge ammonites stalked the sea-floor and pterodactyls the air. … Kahikatea persists from an old, swampy, worn-down archipelago, utterly different from the cool, young, mountainous New Zealand of today. You can’t find it in the hills, but it only prospers in the swamps, and it would vanish without them. (1)

The kahikatea was formally one of New Zealand’s commonest native trees, but timber milling, land clearance, and swamp draining have greatly reduced its habitats. The tree was one of the most revered in the Maori landscape. They were valued for their wood and fruit, and used in rituals of conception and of death. When an auspicious child’s umbilical cord, iho, was buried in a sacred place, it was commonly beneath or on a kahikatea. The very tall canopies were used as places to safely secret the bones of the dead, hidden amongst the clumps of tangled epiphytic plants.

Intensive dairy farming is now the primary industry of the Waikato’s Hauraki Plains, and the negligence of sustainable agricultural practices has caused run-off and mineral exhaustion, causing degradation of the soil, once enviably rich due to the presence of the immense trees.

My photographs cannot necessarily be read or understood at one glance, but they are intended to reveal themselves slowly and possibly in contradictory ways. These landscapes I am portraying are familiar and may appear banal to many New Zealanders: in photographing sites that have been destroyed by clearance, settlement and intensive agricultural practices, I hope to raise awareness of these issues and help contribute to forestalling future losses.

(1) Park, Geoff. Nga Uruora: Ecology and History in a New Zealand Landscape. Wellington: Victoria University Press. p. 36

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Kahikatea (bones)

This is the last of six images from my Kahikatea Series, however, not in any particular, (or indeed correct), order. More about this tomorrow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Kahikatea (vestige)

This is one of a series of six images I am submitting to the Prix Pictet competition. John Turner nominated me for my Kahikatea series: "Landscape as a History of Ecological Disruption". The theme this year is Earth.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kahikatea (buttress)

After quite a hiatus (and a major edit), I am back in the blogosphere.  I follow a lot of blogs and have spent a bit of time thinking about what type of blog to maintain.  I've decided I will stick with mostly posting images, plus notification on exhibitions and so on.  I was a bit stifled by my Elam course-related posts present on this blog, but that has all been deleted now so I can start (mostly) afresh.  

This photograph is from my 2007 Kahikatea series.  I am re-visiting these images because they are being submitted to competition, and I'm considering expanding the series this autumn.