Rooms reviewed in HOME magazine


Federico Monsalve has reviewed Jane Ussher and John Walsh’s newest book Rooms: Portraits of remarkable New Zealand interiors in HOME:

‘People with the best homes and interiors are often the most reluctant to have them photographed. The shield of privacy, after all, allows for strong personalities and their ensuing architectures, collections, and mementoes to multiply — as if in vitro — away from the pendulum swing of trends and fashions.

This book — by seasoned New Zealand photographer Jane Ussher and with an introduction by architecture writer John Walsh — thrives on just such spaces. Close to 100 homes, many of which have never been featured before, are showcased in a fairly straightforward way. There is very little explanation of intent and there are very few captions. The graphic design is sparse to the point of being nearly invisible. Most portrait-oriented images run on a single page and, at most, only an empty page demarcates the frontier land between one interior and another.

Jane’s stylistics, however, lend that tonal flow; the compositional rhythm, that ensures the interiors talk to one another; and, like some of the best photography books, a hint of narrative that feels both elusive and personal to the viewer.

Although not focused on the owners/creators of each interior, this is a book of domestic portraiture without the humans in it. The images here are evidence of particular interests and strong aesthetics; of seasoned hoarders or devout minimalists with well-honed purchasing habits. Rooms is an engrossing peek into the lives of others through the objects with which they choose to surround themselves and how they bring them together to create cohesive and, at times, almost theatrical sets for living.

Eloquently curated, masterfully photographed, and intelligently written: hands down the best local interiors book to have crossed our desk this year.’