b. 1967, New Zealand

Ann Shelton Biography

Ann Shelton is a New Zealand photographer who originally rose in prominence for her recording of nightlife in Auckland's art scene over the late 1990s.

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Since then Shelton has initiated a large number of conceptually innovative photographic projects and teaches at Massey University's Whiti o Rehua School of Art.

Early Life

Shelton completed a BFA at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 1995, and later in 2002, an MFA at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver. She is well-travelled, puts out many books on her shows, and exhibits internationally.

Ann Shelton Artworks

Ann Shelton's early work is best defined by her 'Redeye' series (1997) of portraits. These artworks focused on aspects of Auckland's vibrant art community—particularly many of the artist's friends who were linked to the Teststrip collective, with its openings, performances, and parties.

Shelton's interest in documenting exuberantly dressed partygoers is further recorded in the series 'My Friends are Electric' (1997—2016).

Themes

Shelton is unusually prolific and varied in her exhibition themes and presentation methods. Many projects have dealt with the particularities of place, including focusing on architectural interiors in series such as 'Room Room' (2008), 'Twenty-six Photographs of a House' (2005—2007), and 'Abigail's Party' (1999).

Other series feature landscape, as in 'Wake' (2008—2010), 'In a Forest' (2011—ongoing), 'A Ride in the Darkness / Wastelands' (2010), and 'Public Places' (2001—2003). In these works, various violent narratives or tragedies are embedded in the photographed locations. Sometimes Shelton repeats an image in a flipped over or inverted form, presenting it and the original in a pair to make a perceptual or stringently moral point by showing that the viewer has options of interpretation.

Shelton's projects are a carefully organised mixture of emotional intensity and rigorous historic research. They are idea-driven whilst also visually aware compositionally, being rich in symbolism and allusion—making stories from the past vividly relevant for the present and future.

Plant Portraits

Several more recent series present formal arrangements of herbs, flowers, and other plants, usually with medicinal properties long admired by women over the ages, and linked to different emigrant communities or certain colourful personalities. These include 'An Invitation to Dance' (2021), 'A Lover's Herbal' (2021), 'The Missionaries' (2018), and 'Janes Says' (2015—ongoing).

Exhibitions

Shelton has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include an invitation to dance, Two Rooms, Auckland (2022); close to the wind, Two Rooms, Auckland (2019); jane says, Denny Dimin Gallery, New York (2019); The Missionaries, Two Rooms, Auckland (2018); Ann Shelton: Dark Matter, Auckland Art Gallery Toi O Tāmaki (2016); house work: a project about a house, Enjoy Public Art Gallery, Wellington (2015); in a forest, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt (2012); a library to scale, New Zealand Pavilion, Frankfurt Book Fair (2012).

Group exhibitions include Invisible Traces, Espai d'Art Contemporani de Castelló, Spain (2014); Dark Sky, Adam Art Gallery, Wellington (2012); Images Recalled (Bilder auf Abruf), 3 Fotofestival Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg (2009).

Collections

Shelton's work is included in major institutional collections around Aotearoa New Zealand, including Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki; University of Auckland Art Collection; Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa; and Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna Waiwhetū.

Website and Instagram

Shelton's website can be found here, and her Instagram here.

John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021

Ann Shelton
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