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Esther Bunning’s first solo exhibition opens at Aratoi  

December 9, 2021 December 2021 No Comments

PHOSPHENE 1: a portrait of a landscape.*

The exhibition is an exploration and organic unravelling of an abstract landscape, from origination through to images being printed on silk and linen, and textile stitching on images.

Greytown’s Bunning describes how the images came about. She packed a picnic lunch despite the wintery conditions and traipsed over the hill to the Kaitoke Regional Park: “…We came across a lake area that had an overhanging tree with the remains of autumn leaves, and the water was dotted with these. What happened next was truly extraordinary – and I still have to pinch myself when I recall this. In front of my eyes and camera lens, the scene continuously morphed and changed as the breeze flurried across the water and then became still. I stood there transfixed, unable to believe what I was capturing as the patterns continuously changed and re-arranged themselves into abstracts, geometrics and mosaics while I ‘clicked’ the camera. Hence the title ‘Phosphenes’. It sums up the experience succinctly.

I’d never seen anything like this before, ever – and perhaps won’t witness again – and while I consider I was in the right place at the right time, the resulting images are extraordinary. Unlike anything I’ve ever done. The collection is created with no photoshop, they’re as shot in camera…”

Bunning has had an incredible year. With an array of awards recently, the most recent being a finalist for the highly regarded Parkin Drawing Prize. She has received the highest scoring entry in the history of the NZIPP IRIS awards for the Secret Keeper imagery – a perfect score of 100/100 for the book and a GOLD award for the NZ Pacific Studio ANZAC flags.

She scored a silver in the Nature category for the Phosphene series in the NZIPP IRIS awards, in a category she had never entered before.

The images will all be for sale, and mix of Limited Edition and Open Edition, it is a mix of sizes and formats, and with an overall very organic feel with framing and mounting.

Esther Bunning’s first solo exhibition, Phosphene 1: a portrait of a landscape at Aratoi, Wairarapa Museum of Art and History until 7th February.


* You may be wondering what phosphene means, it is one of those words you may have heard of. If you love decoding words, the word phosphene comes from the Greek words phōs (light) and phainein (to show). You will be familiar with them though. Phosphenes are the luminous floating stars, zigzags, swirls, spirals, squiggles, and other shapes that you see when closing your eyes tight and pressing them with your fingers.

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