The Whau Solar Exhibition

Estimated reading time: 2 min

About this installation

WhenNovember 2022
WhereRata Street Bridge, New Lynn
Type of eventArt exhibition
Funded byThe Trusts Community Foundation
Te Whau Pathway

This series of photographs was created through pinhole solargraphy workshops along the Whau river. It was led by local artist Jenny Tomlin who was runner up in our Flow to the Whau Photography Competition in early 2022.

Workshops involved making simple pinhole cameras using discarded aluminium drink cans and loading them with photographic paper in a darkroom. Artists then set up cameras at Ken Maunder Park to capture images. Ken Maunder Park was chosen so that cameras could point northwards to capture the sun’s arc and its reflection on the Te Wai o Te Whau. This is called solargraphy.

Artwork was then installed on Rata Street Bridge by Whau the People. The location was significant: it was reminder of the awa that flows beneath this busy route.

Thank you so much to all the amazing artists involved!

Jenny Tomlin, Holly Campbell, Yolanda Gao, Jennifer Greengrass, Matt Hurley, Lissa Knight, Kim Maree, Jo Urquhart, Robyn Urquhart, Annie Mein (Teacher), Amanda Csengo (Interpreter), Lui Aleluia, Hayden Blake, Andrei Deo, Revival Fatu, Evan Huang, Jona Joel, Seth Myburg, Jas Poki, Alexandra Usudan, Lena Tuipulotu, Blaine Windley and Joseph Windley. Special thanks to all the participants from Ko Taku Reo Deaf Provision based at Ormiston Senior College.

The magic of solargraphy

Solargraphy is the art of catching the sun’s path through a pinhole camera using extremely long exposure times. For three to five weeks (in 2019 and 2022), cameras used in this exhibition captured the sun crossing the sky, capturing its passage across the sky throughout the day, as it rises and sets. The arc of the sun is also due to the paper being curved inside the can.

Each day the exposure process was repeated, overlaying the previous day and building up a cumulative image of a Whau River scene. The image of the sun and landscape is burned on to the paper inside the pinhole camera by sunlight, turning the silver dark and creating a negative image.


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