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Raewyn Gilkes - The weather was ideal

NEW ZEALAND PHOTOGRAPHY CURATED BY
CHRISTINE MCFETRIDGE AND TALIA SMITH

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Sylvia Plath's fig tree acts as a point of departure for Raewyn Gilkes' ongoing body of work Transitions. The Bell Jar's central character, Esther Greenwood, visualises figs falling into her lap, each representing different paths and professions, but they begin to wither because she cannot decide which to choose; 'choosing one meant losing all the rest.'

I can remember driving down Yaldhurst Road in Christchurch as a child to visit my Aunt and Uncle, passing fields on the left populated with horses and suburbia sprawling out towards the right, thoughts consumed by how much I couldn't wait to be an adult. Adults seemed to have the world figured out. They knew what they wanted from life and they made their own decisions.

Enough time has passed that I'm now considered by society to be an adult. However, as Raewyn's photographs and Plath's words explore, I also now know that I am no closer to having the world figured out. Raewyn's images describe the unfolding of life, the way we are informed by our friends and family, and, more than anything, seek an answer to the question 'am I okay in the world?'

'My work is an abstract autobiography, in a sense it in not an account of my life history, rather it is a body of work that accounts for my experience at this stage of my life: a visual narrative of my everyday being and self identity.'

The unfolding of life for Raewyn is the 'thrilling feeling of walking blindfolded into the unknown, the discovery of ones limits, the understanding of sweet hindsight, the bitterness of loss, the mystery of love, the miracle of creation. Dreams are put in place and the possibilities are endless but, at the same time, confined.'

By using photography as a visual response to consider life experiences, Raewyn looks not only to her constructed identity, made up of intimate portraits of people, place and culture she aims for her audience to relate to, but also looks to the future. The figs that fall may wither, but the tree will continue to produce fruit.

- Christine McFetridge

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This post is part of The weather was ideal project, a series of posts about New Zealand photography curated by Christine McFetridge and Talia Smith.

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