Untitled (Wellington Botanic Garden)

Paul, Joanna
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Object Detail

This photograph was presented in Wellington as part of a small survey exhibition of Joanna Margaret Paul’s photographs taken between 1976 and 1985—a period when, to be taken seriously, artists were expected to specialise in a particular medium. Paul was far from such an artist as she practiced across many media including film, and she was also a poet.

As noted by artist Peter Ireland, who knew Joanna before her untimely death in 2003, her engagement with film and photography was most likely seen as peripheral dabbling in peripheral media. Yet she was part of a conspicuous conceptual shift in the 1970s when young women artists, motivated by the feminist movement, were dedicated to exploring often-fragmentary viewpoints in new ways. Her focus on domestic subjects—as seen across her wider artistic practice—could be considered at odds with this but, practically and poetically, Paul remained determined to mine the richness of her daily experience.

Paul visited the Wellington Botanic Gardens often and here she frames her unique view, conveying what Ireland calls ‘the power of the glimpse’. As was characteristic of the artist across her oeuvre, she demonstrates an intimate and decisive moment in which—in this case—she is not cropping a full image after the fact, but crops a normal view as a way of seeing in the first instance. It was at least a decade before better known photographers, such as Peter Peryer, similarly played with the framing of a subject in terms of time, scale and space.
Archival pigment print
Image-size: 178 x 265mm
Frame-size: 420 x 520mm
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