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Katrina Ching–Machu Picchu: The Lost City & Andrew Ross–Some Recent Photographs

Mike Polaczuk

Visual Arts


Photospace Studio Gallery,
1st floor, 37 Courtenay Place
April 20 -May 20

Both Ching and Ross’ works are black and white photographs. Ching’s works are ultrachrome pigment ink prints on archival paper, while Ross’ works are gold-toned silver-gelatin prints on printout paper.
Ching’s exhibition, Machu Picchu – The Lost City, was photographed August-September, 2006. Her friend’s mother, a yoga and meditation teacher, was taking a group to Machu Picchu. Ching filmed and documented the group’s spiritual journey through Peru – a land rich in mythology, history, crystal waters, misty mountains, and Inca architecture. Ching chose well to use a Dianna camera: an old pinhole (something of a plastic toy), which brings about soft images and dark edges around the photographs taken. The first work of hers I saw at the exhibition was “Tree On The Terraces” – a moody, distant, and soft black and white photograph of mountainous landscape covered in misty cloud. I wanted to see more.
I found two of her works, ‘Tree On The Terraces’ and ‘Machu Picchu City And Huayna Picchu To The North’, very attractive. Both images displayed lovely composition: strong black, white and grey tones, good depth of field, and a wonderful ambience created by the soft images of the low, misty clouds and the mystical Incan architecture.
At first glance, the other works were less appealing, mainly because of their dull, grey tones and weakness in light and dark contrasts, which created an overall flat image. What I did discover was a beautiful small book, containing smaller prints. Here, the photos looked a lot richer and stronger for their ink, and the smaller size drew me in more. This added to the feeling of it being a spiritual journey and a mystical environment.
Andrew Ross’ exhibition, Some Recent Photographs, contained incredibly toned black and white prints of Taihape, Masterton, and local Wellington suburbia. They made me wonder what will these places look like in the future, when the hand-painted “No Parking” sign in Masterton and the Serenity Prayer in Newtown will be eighty years old?
The circular frame of ‘Phil Caswell and The Serenity Prayer, Newtown 4/11/06’ was created cleverly, by using a 4 x 5 lens on an 8 x 10 camera. It depicts a man framed by a door and a hand-painted prayer on a street wall. The text and wall give a strong perspective to the photograph’s composition.
Ross is self-taught and has been taking photographs for around twenty years. His works feel quite desolate; ‘Cricket St, Masterton, 25/6/06’, is enhanced by wet, cold and windy weather.
The golden toning of the otherwise black and white images is a prominent feature, particularly in contrast to the grey tone of Ching’s black and white ‘Machu Picchu – The Lost City.’ The filling of an otherwise white room with a dozen of the photographs compounded the gold monotone effect of the prints.
Another contrast between the two artists’ works was the sharp clear focus of Andrew Ross’s images and the soft-focus views of Ching’s Dianna camera. These complemented each other, making one another’s style more apparent.
Works are selling at $650 for a framed piece by Ching, $600 for a framed piece by Ross, and $540 per loose print.