Riverton collection sees life through a camera lens

"Click" (a celebration of the history of photography) curators Eve Welch and Wayne Hill, of Riverton, surrounded by portraits of former Western Southland people at Te Hikoi Southern Journey museum in Riverton.

FEATURING a collection of cameras, photography equipment and framed photographs, “Click” is a celebration of the history of photography.

On display at Te Hikoi Southern Journey Museum in Riverton, the exhibition featured many portraits of former Western Southland residents, as well as cameras from throughout the eras.

Te Hikoi manager Karyn Owen said some might “find the temporary exhibition reminiscent of the old Riverton museum filled with family portraits”.

Curators Eve Welch and Wayne Hill have combined their talents to piece together the massive display.

Being a photographer, Welch focused on displaying the cameras and photography equipment, including some of her own modern cameras among many of the Riverton Heritage Society’s extensive collection.

“The cameras represent most eras and advances in technology… although there are no Rangefinder, single-lens reflex or twin-lens reflect cameras.”

Hill, as an artist, hung the framed photographs and added a few quirks of his own, such as a mirror among the portraits so a visitor could become part of the gallery wall of photos in the former courthouse, which made up part of Te Hikoi.

“I had a vision of the old museum walls speaking to me, saying to throw everything up.

“The portraits are centred around the mirror, so visually, people can use the mirror to blend in with the photos.”

Another interactive feature included the old-fashioned, folding camera in the middle of the room which visitors could look through.

Once Southland returned to Alert Level 1 or lower, Owen said visitors could dress in the costumes which had been created by volunteers Leah Boniface and Ngaire Bartley, to have their photographs taken alongside a chair which featured in several exhibition photographs.

“But only when we get into Alert Level 1 or lower.”

Visitors may find an ancestor or two among the photographs on the walls, but due to the size of the collection, less than one-third of the more than 300 portraits were on show.

To help people find family members, they could also look through the digital collection of photographs on a touchscreen, Owen said.

Hill joked if visitors wanted to donate more walls, more could be displayed.

Owen said they were keen to look at creative ways to have more photographs on display, and were looking at possibilities.

However, there were many portraits which were not identified.

Copies of these were in a visual folder and Owen was hopeful some might be identified by visitors.

  • Entry to this exhibition only was $3, or included in the $9 museum entry. Southland district ratepayers and library cardholders got free entry when they brought along a paying visitor. The exhibition would run until December. September hours were 10am-4pm, daily.

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