Countryside & Coasts

Suspension footbridge, Urenui, 1966

Love of the countryside is surely fairly universal, and probably not hard to explain. It's probably not increased by explaining it, but it's interesting that, while it is often enjoyed intensely in solitude, it is something we like to share. We want people to see it as we do. We want to insist that they value it. So to protect it.

This enjoyment is so often primarily visual, but all the senses are working—the silences and sounds; the feel of grass, rock, and sand; the taste of salt air; the smells of the farm. Appreciation, mediated through the sensory, goes beyond, and somehow healing and well-being of all of life seems to be possible.

Here I share a little bit of my love of the countryside and coasts; it's fragmentary, and it is a reminder to me that the second-hand view is not the experience itself. It's a while since I spent much quality time out of the city—but I need to go not as a tourist or sightseer, but as one who belongs and is at home. To live one's daily life in a small town is not something I've experienced; yet many have been familiar places to me since the early 1950s, and I think about their special qualities, their changes, their ambivalent connections with cities.

This Bridge is also a place where I might share observations on some countryside issues. For the subject of coastal development and holiday housing see the Forum VERNACULAR BUILDING.


The gentler human presence

Going back to a well-loved place many years later can be disturbing to find it changed, the magic gone, the freshness of first delight can't be recaptured. Nostalgia is hard to handle—we somehow feel guilty about having such backward yearnings and sense of loss. There's an ache. It must be possible to positively connect all that experience into a continuum of meaning and life.

For me to show here things that I thought important to record is also an exercise in checking out their value and the soundness of judgement that here is intrinsic loveliness of nature, and goodness and virtue in man-made things. The human works all show a lightness of touch, a simplicity, a humility.

I got my first 35mm SLR camera in 1966. The early colour slides are quite telling in that my regard for these subjects has not diminished. I haven't outgrown these things. There is nothing here to despise for being of an earlier era. Here are qualities to still appreciate and learn from.

 

First 35mm Photos

STRATFORD CHURCH AND HOUSE, 1966 RURAL HOUSE NR. NORMANDY, 1966 OTAKI TOWNSHIP, LOOKING EAST, 1966 FARMHOUSE NORTH OF OTAKI, 1966
COUNTRY CHURCH NEAR AWANUI, 1966 FARMHOUSE, GLORIT, KAIPARA, 1966 MANGAWEKA RAILWAY TOWNSHIP, 1966 HELENA BAY STREAM, NORTHLAND, 1966

Early 35mm Photos

ROAD TO BEACH, WAIPAPAKAURI, 1966 ORUA BAY, MANUKAU HARBOUR, 1970 GRANDSTAND, NEAR TE KUITI, 1972 LYNFIELD FARMLET, MT ROSKILL, 1970
 
  BOAT HIRE, KAIKORAI, DUNEDIN, 1969 TIMBER TRUSS BRIDGE, W. OF TE KUITI, 1968 ACROSS THE TRUSS BRIDGE, 1968
John Lewis