May 292012
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Waitara is fascinating me. It was the location for the start of the Land Wars following colonialist annexing of land for settlers. At the turn of the century it was the bustling main port and town for North Taranaki. Now New Plymouth looks down on Waitara as the poor cousin, excuses to be made for, and shuffled into the back room when visitors arrive.
It's a town of contrasts – historical, social, political and environmental. While superficially on the trail of the pohutukawas following the line of the river, I have been finding myself more and more driven to dig deeper and explore some of these issues.
Documentary photography is new for me so I'd be grateful for any responses that you have to share.

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  6 Responses to “Water Outfall: West Waitara Walkway 2012”

  1. Jen, Ive looked at this for some time and Im left with more questions than answers.

    I see a path that draws me in but has no destination – the path may well be infinite. On the right a water barrier and on the left a man made barrier. I have no choice here. And whats with the passing lane on a footpath? Can I expect something big to be coming the other way? The pump seems to tie in with the pipe and both appear to be imposters to the origional purpose of the path.

    Overall I get the feeling of forgotten backwater……

    • Thanks Ian, I should have known I could rely on you to give some really gritty, useful comment. After I put this up I thought it may have been a bit premature, that it really needs some more particular background – a series will start to tell the tale I hope but one single image needs the words… and just when I’d stopped trying to explain myself! There are so many bits of stories going on around me at the moment I think the only way I’ll make sense of them is just to try and respond to what I see (with knowledge in the background) without thinking too much and see how they start connecting. I guess one of the most important connections in this photograph is the industry/river relationship which is why I framed it the way I did. More to come on this… you may see it up again.

  2. An interesting image. I see several layers of barriers and the viewer is forced to walk along this interface. the pump is the only way to convey anything from one side to the other and it requires energy to work.

    • Oooh, thanks Tim, interesting observation. Comments from you both are helping me make more sense of what is around me.

  3. Interesting that I keep getting drawn back to this picture. Knowing your intended story changes little but helps my interpretation. The path becomes more strongly the story – it is now the barrier trying to protect the river from the industry.
    I completely agree that work such as this benefits from (and probably needs to be) being presented as a body of work.
    I also think words are vital here. It isn’t that the image needs an explanation but a viewer can best understand your story when a perspective is given

  4. Geez Jen, I’ve looked and looked at this picture and the more I look the more it appears as a mirror to me. I’m traveling down a path at the moment that splits completely down the middle two halves of my life that I understand. It’s like a tightrope, there is no margin for error either way and I just don’t have any concept or vision where the final destination may be. There is no erring from this journey and to some extent I am glad of that.

    Just like you this is a multilayered fascinating piece.

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