Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Taking the Bait
Whitebait and the act of whitebaiting, is one of those iconic New Zealand activities that has been around ‘forever’ – unchanged and still able to capture our hearts, minds and appetites. For Maori, it has always been a popular traditional food source and if you click on either Traditional Foods or Whitebait in the label line below this post, you’ll be able to read other postings I’ve made about whitebait in the Maori context.
‘Whitebaiters Never Lie’ is a fantastic Christchurch Arts Festival exhibition with a difference. It has taken 118 images from the book of the same name (also launched at the festival) by Murray Hedwig and Anita Peters, blown them up to billboard size and displayed them along the entire length of Worcester Boulevard from Cathedral Square to the Canterbury Museum. Hedwig’s photographs are stunning and there’s something surreal and intriguing about seeing them made giant and displayed within a busy cityscape.
It took Hedwig and Peters three years to produce their book – visiting popular whitebaiting sites throughout New Zealand to photograph, interview and document the activities of many of the ‘older characters’ still fishing using tried-and-true methods. I for one am delighted they did so. I’ve interviewed a few old whitebaiters myself and the stories they tell are fascinating. This is one book I’ll be lining up for. In terms of the exhibition itself, I’ve wandered along Worcester Boulevard several times now, always admiring the photographs and always fascinated to see how the public in general interacts with art in public spaces. This is definitely one show that is drawing people in and I’ve watched numerous visitors taking photographs of each other in front of the whitebaiters. It's just a pity it's not whitebaiting season and that there's none selling whitebait fritters from a boulevard stall. www.artsfestival.co.nz