Alex Thomas - 'Necessary Distraction' group exhibition at Photospace Gallery, Wellington, 3 June to 2 July, 2022
Alex Thomas - artist statement:
I sought to capture central Wellington as it experienced the level 4 and level 3 ‘delta’ lockdown in late 2021. The inner city didn’t have its usual pace or energy, but that didn’t mean there was no activity, after all Kiwis were encouraged to “spread their legs” by Covid-19 response minister Chris Hipkins. Locals, in particular cyclists, made the most of the empty streets. I initially focused on capturing moments of Wellingtonians experiencing the freedom that was available to them.
To truly reflect the feeling of town at that time I needed to stretch myself beyond the typical 3:2 photo. Panoramic shots offered an effective way to sum up the barren urban landscape. Creating panoramas took a lot more patience than I usually demonstrate with my photography. They forced me to be pedantic, not my usual see and shoot approach. The shots required a finely balanced camera on a tripod, portrait orientation, consistent exposure and manual focus. Dozens of shots would be taken at each intersection to get a near to 360 degree view. These shots were then stitched together using Adobe Lightroom's panorama function.
I also took the opportunity to capture locals taking advantage of new found freedom as alert levels decreased. The first evening at level 3 gave New Zealanders the opportunity to pick up takeaways (or have them delivered). In taking these shots my focus was on ensuring they reflected how something quite typical in Wellington, or in any other New Zealand small town or city, was still so important to people but had changed.
Note: Alex's photo series appear as a block of nine A3+ digital prints in the main gallery (centre of RH wall), and five of his seven panoramas are in the main room, along with one in the hall outside the office and one on the far wall in the office (gallery room 4). Photographs are for sale, POA.
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