Ratanui, a 500 year Northern Rata in the Tarapuruhi bush sanctuary north of Whanganui where Anne Noble grew up, provides the starting point for this new exhibition. Noble first photographed the tree in 1978 and, last summer while on an artist residency at Tylee Cottage Whanganui, she revisited the sanctuary to create this new exhibition In a forest dark ….
With her evocative title taken from the opening line of the Italian poet Dante’s great magnum, and all its centuries old connotations of the human search for way finding, Noble entered the forest at night wearing a hunter’s camera in a bid to map traces of both visible and invisible worlds.
The project evolved from her interest in how a colony of bees operates as one interconnected body. “Forests are similar and yet we see them comprised of single entities – like a population of human beings,” she says. “I am fascinated by the invisible networks of exchange within the forest.”
Here, as with her bee works, science, poetry and art come together. The work reflects recent science suggesting that trees communicate through their roots and across fungi networks via what has been called the wood wide web.
Highly acclaimed, Anne Noble has been at the forefront of photographic practice in Aotearoa New Zealand since the early 1980s. Creating bodies of work that mark sustained engagement with particular places, sites, histories, issues and more recently species, her images are known for their beauty, complexity and conceptual rigour and for their persistent inquiry into the ways we perceive and come to understand the natural world. She has exhibited throughout the world and has work in many international collections including most prominently the Musee du Quai Branly in Paris. She is also the recipient of numerous awards.
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