Paul hartigan's mother, Mary, was Lebanese; Hartigan describes her as an avid gardener with a deep love of cooking, who grew both vegetables and a wonderful array of colourful flowers at her sun-drenched little house: dahlias, gladioli, pansies and roses as well as giant sunflowers and opium poppies - a magnificent cacophony of ʻprettyʼ flowers. Hartigan’s Powerflowers are created from multiple exposures onto the Polaroid emulsion surface – the results of immediate and intuitive responses. They were created during a series of intense excursions into Auckland Domain and nearby streets of Parnell over a period during 1989 – 1994.
On a number of warm sunny days at the Domain, and mostly at the lush Wintergardens, Hartigan used his Polaroid Spectra to capture his sensuous objects of desire — flowers. He had devised a brilliant way to pause the release of the film from the camera, allowing him to choose a second, third and sometimes fourth image to overlay the first. This exercise would take place over minutes and hours as he raced around looking for the next shot that, as part of this cumulative imagery, conveyed the dream in his head. It was both exhausting and exhilarating, “I would just collapse when I got home”, Hartigan recalls.
It was the “dreamy, trippiness” of the imagery that he desired. Hartigan wishes to convey a sense of memory, of collapsed time, and the simultaneity of experience; aspects of human existence difficult to convey by the written word but beautifully suggested by this evocative approach to photography.
The small original Polaroid of this dream-like imagery is then scanned, enlarged and printed onto archival Photo Rag stock to achieve Museum quality archival prints.
The Artistʼs Statement:
Mine is a painterʼs eye, not a photographerʼs, so my objectives are quite different. I do not seek to capture a singular definitive moment, aspect or character in a conventional way, my representation (or image) is more about a period of experience, intangible yet fulfilling, but without precise detail. I seek to represent a time-lapse sequence in one frame, three or four perspectives blended as one, a kind of frozen home movie, nostalgic, retrospective, slightly romantic even, an ideal.
Paul Hartigan's work is held in public and private collections including Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongarewa, The National Library of New Zealand, Sarjeant Gallery, The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Chartwell Collection, The University of Auckland, Queensland Art Gallery and The Hocken Library.
Best Public Sculpture Auckland, Metro Awards 2006 for “Colony” (2004) Neon at Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland