NEW ZEALAND PHOTOGRAPHY CURATED BY
CHRISTINE MCFETRIDGE AND TALIA SMITH
'But it's getting better now.
He found it in him to forgive.
He walked the city,
And he found a place to live,
In a half-way house,
Half-way down Dominion Road.'
- The Mutton Birds
Cities are defined by their iconic stretches of road. They're features of a city we remember long after we've left it behind. These are the sort of places communities and cultures congregate; and local industry thrives. We write songs and stories about them. Auckland's Dominion Road is one of these places. It's a busy road used daily by thousands of commuters, but its locals make the place what it is. Solomon Mortimer's project Dominion Road documents these characters, and their setting, as proposed alterations to the road infrastructure come into effect and change a landscape unaltered for eighty years.
'With the alterations of Dominion Road beginning this year, I was given the opportunity to collect the stories and memories of those whose nostalgic remnants of a lifetime were about to be demolished. Working with an oral historian, and Auckland City Libraries, I recorded for this project an account of the road as it was, and has been for the last eighty years (no one I could find with ties to the road was older than that).'
Solomon plays the 'role of the archivist with a camera.' He introduces us to figures; new, but we've met them before. The gentleman reading his paper, local bakers and restauranteurs. The work is not time sensitive in an aesthetic sense and just as we relate to the images now, so too will others in fifty years time.
These men and women use their hands to engage in a very physical way of life. They're salt of the Earth kind of individuals; quiet men and women who, like a road, make a place memorable to those passing through.
The project is now housed in the Sir George Grey Special Collection at the Auckland Central City Library.
- Christine McFetridge