John Hurrell – 15 June, 2016
According to Lyall's exhibition notes and short poems, published along images of his stencilled on walls prints (one of which uses a Sameshima photograph) in a short catalogue, he feels many of these miniature trees are inadequately formed compared to the Japanese models he works from. The angles and shapes are not extreme as he would like. Nevertheless Sameshima's images of these forms make compelling viewing.
Haruhiko Sameshima & John Lyall
31 May - 18 June 2016
As part of the current Auckland Festival of Photography Haru Sameshima and John Lyall present a collaboration; Haru’s photographs of John’s potted bonsai trees. Lyall has been making bonsai for over fifteen years, manipulating the small trees with wire and string, trimming the leaves and roots, binding them to sympathetically shaped rocks and searching for appropriate pots. Sometimes using New Zealand natives; sometimes not.
According to Lyall’s exhibition notes and short poems, published alongside images of his stencilled on walls prints (one of which uses a Sameshima photograph) in a short catalogue, he feels many of these miniature trees are inadequately formed compared to the Japanese models he works from. The angles and shapes are not extreme as he would like. Nevertheless Sameshima‘s images of these forms make compelling viewing.
Perhaps this is because he picks a worthy angle so that the twisting or leaning thin trunk has dramatic impact within the rectangular borders of each ‘portrait’ image. They become like brush and ink drawings on an unfurled vertical scroll so they take on a graphic interpretation where space becomes shallow. Sometimes the linked up twigs and explosions of tiny leaves tumble out of the side of the flat slab bowl, lopsidedly cascading into the void, bobbing showers of green dots hovering in the aether. Each one a sculpture in space that alters as you walk around it, but which becomes fixed as a ‘drawing’ when it is photographically documented.
The more you look at these images, the more it becomes clear how much variety there is within the ten of them: the different types of tree used, the leaf shapes, the composite leaf textures, the linear configuration of the ‘twigless’ trunks, the tortured alignment of many of the small trunks and exposed roots, the shape and colours of the vases, their angle on the wooden long-legged stand.
There are also photographic prints by John Lyall of stencilled images made from one of Sameshima’s photographs, and an image from a book on Japanese culture. One other is based on a photograph of Lyall’s bonsai trees in his back yard, and these are stencilled on outside house walls. An amusing form of ‘clumsy’ graffiti with their use of templated black paint, these are quite a contrast to Sameshima’s delicate botanical imagery.