Photographic Exhibition Review

Review by Laura Elliott.  08 August 2013.  Otago Daily Times.

Grahame Sydney Photographs: an exhibition on at Central Stories, Alexandra until 25th August 2013.

”Winter images” is proof that Grahame Sydney’s eye for light, line and colour, so highly acclaimed in his landscape paintings, extends also to his photographic work. Indeed, images such as the Winter Cemetery series reveal a greater sensitivity and pathos than is present even in his painted canvases.

Winter, Poolburn is particularly stunning, a study of an old willow tree wreathed in snow like a Christmas tree bedecked in tinsel, the frozen landscape turning an ordinary field into a scene from Narnia. The movement of clouds in Ida Valley Sunset lends an almost time-lapse effect as the sun begins to drop below the line of the hills, casting the lone tree into shadow and, conversely, spotlighting it at the same time. Past Lives, Nevis pays homage to the small poignant cemetery in the Nevis Valley, the sunshine gleaming brightly on the marble tombstones, standing clean and proud against the slow encroachment of rising grass and neglected fence, few other signs of human habitation visible on the rugged horizon.

A considerable portfolio focused on scenes of a Central winter could have been a slightly monotonous litany of snow, ice and bleakly naked trees. Instead, Sydney’s photographs are distinct, compelling and often achingly beautiful. The artist will give a floor talk at Central Stories on Sunday at 1pm.