Under water inspires photo artist
Capturing the beauty of the deep
Since obtaining her scuba diving certificate three years ago, artist Amanda Heslop has been captivated by the underwater world.
“Shards of light play, bubbles dance and colours intensify” are the inspiration for her latest photographic installation, Subaqueous.
“This comes from my diving experiences and a fascination with the idea of priceless lost artefacts waiting to be found on the sea floor,” Amanda says.
Subaqueous is on show at the Tennyson Gallery in Napier next week, part of the White Night event during the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival.
Gallery director Lizzie Russell says Amanda’s passion for her underwater adventures and the “dreamy, soulful works” captured her eye and imagination.
“I think the collection of photographs will be memorable for White Night visitors. There will be so much on offer in Napier that night and Amanda’s work will offer a gentle, watery reprieve from all the action. The low light will probably create a quietness that will work well for the photographs too.” Amanda also draws inspiration from her other love — art and history.
“Another huge inspiration is from British artist Damien Hirst’s Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable exhibition. He is one of the most influential artist of our time and his latest work is an absolute inspiration to me. It is brilliant.”
She says coming from a young country like New Zealand, she finds ancient history, artefacts and architecture fascinating.
“I’ve travelled all over the world in search of those art works and the architecture I studied at school. Now I have included some of those in my own work. In particular I like objects of femininity and beauty.”
Amanda says viewing important works of art in person has ignited something inside her. Another inspiring object is Pania of the Reef.
“I have very fond memories of visiting her on Marine Parade as a child and just thought she was magnificent. I still enjoy taking my own children to visit Pania today.”
Amanda says all of her images are snapshots — they are not superimposed or photoshopped.
“I like the imperfections. I don’t like the idea of getting rid of a fleck of sand catching the light that can add a completely new dimension to an image. For instance, a photo taken in the day with sand particles reflecting light can then become a starry night.”
She enjoys experimenting in different types of water, even different seas from the Mediterranean to the South Pacific Ocean, as fresh water, salt water and blue holes all offer different qualities.
“Some are bright and light, while others can be dark and moody. I particularly like the effect of the thermal waters in Vanuatu — salt and fresh water all coming together give a beautiful blurred painterly effect.
“I love the surprise when you print an image as you don’t always have a huge amount of control when you’re taking photographs underwater. You have an idea of how you want the image to look, but that isn’t always going to happen.”
Amanda says buoyancy can be an issue — props take on a life of their own.
“Some will float when you want them to sink. You have to be quite creative in working around some of the issues that arise, but that’s all part of the process for me.”
■ Subaqueous, The Tennyson Gallery, cnr Hastings Street and Tennyson Sts, Napier, Thursday, October 18, 5pm to Monday, November 12.
Amanda Heslop with two images which will be exhibited at the Tennyson Gallery.