National Business Review. 31 January 2012. John Daly-Peoples.
For nearly forty years Grahame Sydney has painted the landscapes of Central Otago with many of his paintings becoming as well known as the landscapes he has portrayed such as the hills of the Maniototo and the shed at the Wedderburn railway siding.
Now he has produced a set of photographs of the area, published as Grahame Sydney’s Central Otago by Penguin Books.
A group of these photographs have also been issued as limited edition prints and are currently showing at Artis Gallery.
While some replicate the painted images he is well know for, most of them explore new areas particularly images of the area in winter.
These works which are mainly of snow covered trees and landscapes are more related to the series of photographs he produced when he went to the Antarctic a few years ago. These were works which tried to make sense of the immensity and whiteness of the landscape.
Some of the works such as “Fallow Field” are of the broad landscape showing the intervention of man with the lightly tilled field dusted with snow while others such as “Duck Pond Omakau” which has no evidence of human presence shows only a snow shrouded tree and grass looking like some art installation.
Many of the works are similar to his paintings with “Past Lives Nevis Valley” where the central; gravestones provide a surreal landscape dominated by the sculptural hills in the background.
He also has works which incorporate the built environment such as “Fisherman’s Hut, Falls Dam” and “Loading Ramps, Ida Valley” where he uses the strong architectural elements of the farming apparatus to contrast with the landscapes.
There are also example of bird studies with Frosted Quail – Cambria and portraits with Donald Harley reminiscent of the artist early portrait drawings.
With these dramatic sprawling landscapes, the almost insignificant impact of man as well as poignant portraits Sydney captures both the raw beauty of the area and the isolation of its inhabitants.
The surprising thing about these limited edition prints is the price. The larger prints (465 x 700 mm) are $1400 and the smaller ones (310 x 470 mm) $750.
On display at Artis Gallery, Auckland, until February 5, 2012.