Un­der wa­ter in­spires photo artist

Cap­tur­ing the beauty of the deep

Hastings Leader - - News - BY BRENDA VOWDEN [email protected]­day.co.nz

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.

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