Capturing an era at Anderson House


ACCLAIMED New Zealand fine art photographer Adrienne Martyn has created a series of photographs that convey the atmosphere and light of the empty rooms within Anderson House on the outskirts of Invercargill.

After months of planning and obtaining clearance to access the building, Martyn, who approached the Invercargill Public Art Gallery in 2016, has worked on the project over the past two weeks.

Born in Wellington, but raised in Invercargill, she had been “sitting” on the idea of doing something photographically with Anderson House since 1991.

“I wanted to do this project because my family helped build this building.

“My grandfather, Adrian Turner, worked on the site as a carpenter and my great aunt, Vivienne, married Alf Ball, the original builder,” Martyn said.

“As a child my mother brought me out here because her father was one of the builders and that was when I was first introduced to art on the walls.”

Martyn’s new project was based on her previous project, Looking for the Subject, which was an investigation of art gallery interiors, and focused on how the picture frame operates as a device to present art.

“I discovered that the building [Anderson House] was going to be emptied out in preparation for earthquake strengthening and I thought what a great idea to photograph the rooms completely empty, but with the tracings that once it was a gallery,” she said.

“To continue with the idea I proposed shrouding or covering artworks, either fully or partially, with lightweight fabric to suggest and question what lies underneath.”

Invercargill Public Art Gallery manager Sarah Brown said it was a wonderful way to honour the rich history of Anderson House, as well as celebrate and document this time of transition for the gallery.

“We will start moving the artworks from Anderson House very shortly and as a gallery we saw this project as an essential part of our shift.

“The photographs captured by Adrienne will be displayed at the Pop Up Gallery in Don St next year,” she said.

Martyn is now exploring the possibilities of photographing other historic buildings in Invercargill for an exhibition or book, including The Grand Hotel.

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