Through photographs and embroidered textile works The New Sun juxtaposes the empirical finds of land trace, with the more speculative imaginings of what life might have entailed for the women living with, or alongside, the male miners within early settler-colonial Aotearoa.
Taken between 2013 and 2016, a period when McQuarrie was travelling regularly around Aotearoa, the photographs depict sites of former mining activity. Many of these places are marked by signs or plaques, designating their place as 'an historic site', but predominantly they are hiding in plain sight. Landforms shaped by 19th century mining for gold and quartz. These undulations, channels and (now rarely) structures, are what tangibly remain from the brutal process of extraction of minerals from the land, that was fuelled by so many aspirations for prosperity. Brutal for the ecology of the land and brutal for the miners engaged in such perilous and back-breaking activity.
There is a very resonant counterpoint to the tone and material process of the accompanying hand-embroidered works on linen. The texts in these works, written by the artist, consider the female experience, 'filling in' for records that are very thin on the ground.
These works seek to offer a new way into thinking about this period of our history, to achieve a richer understanding of the legacies and traces threading between then and now, there and here.
Caroline McQuarrie is an artist whose primary interest is the concept of home, whether it is located in a domestic space, a community or the land we identify with. She works to explore meaning carried in photographic and craft based objects and domestic, suburban or community landscapes and sites. Caroline is a Senior Lecturer in Photography at Whiti o Rehua School of Art, College of Creative Arts, Massey University.
Extracts taken from the full Essay by Heather Galbraith: The New Sun: new photographic and textile work by Caroline McQuarrie.
Press release courtesy Jhana Millers.