Things to do  |  19 Apr 2023

A new exhibition at Akaroa Museum tells the story of Banks Peninsula’s rich photographic history.

Catching Shadows exhibition curator Daniel Smith, has assembled more than 80 images from the museum’s collection of photographs along with some significant loans from private and public collections.

Presented chronologically, the exhibition showcases several local ‘firsts.’

“We have the first local person to be photographed; the first photographer active in Akaroa; the first resident photographer; and the first woman photographer,” says Mr Smith.

“However, I hope that the real value of the exhibition is that it presents the beginnings of a discussion about the creation of the area’s photographic heritage.”

Catching Shadows presents a feast of historic photography showing people and landscapes from the past along with  streetscapes in beautiful sepia tones.

J. L. Buckland, Picnic at Wainui. Nitrate negative, 12.8 x 32.8 cm, c.1925. (2003.18.2.19)

Beginning with the fabled Hone Tīkao daguerreotype portrait from the early 1840’s, it proceeds to the first documented photographer working in Akaroa, Christopher Swinbourne in 1859, and traverses a century of visiting photographers’ comings and goings.

Works by Akaroa photographers Henry Watkins and his brother Will appear, along with that of Henry Billens and Arthur Gungall who set up studios only to find their businesses struggled.

“Then came the T. E. Taylor studio and the great Jessie Buckland in the early twentieth century, followed by Donald J. McKay from Le Bons Bay in the 1950s,” says Mr Smith.

Thanks to a grant from the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's Museum Hardship Fund, Catching Shadows is accompanied by an attractive exhibition catalogue created by Mr Smith. The fund was set up to help cultural and heritage organisations in the wake of Covid-19. 

The exhibition is open daily from 10.30am to 4.30pm at the Akaroa Museum.

Main image: Green & Hahn Studio, Centennial re-enactment, Akaroa Recreation Ground. Gelatin silver print,
16.5 x 20.8 cm, 1940. (Photo:163)