South Island of New Zealand From the Road reviewed on Poetry Shelf


Paula Green has reviewed the new edition of Robin Morrisons The South Island of New Zealand From the Road on the Poetry Shelf blog:

‘Road trips take many forms. You can load up the car, check the map (or not), and head off into adventure and discovery, epiphany and delight. Who knows what beauty and mishap will unfold? Road travel is joy. Or you can do the kind of road trip where you swap a novel or an artwork or a photograph for the lure of a physical itinerary. That too offers adventure and discovery, epiphany and delight. Robin Morrison’s The South Island – From the Road offers the reader multifarious travel, retracing physical roads and then setting you within and beyond the photograph frame.

The documentary photographs of Robin Morrison (1944 – 1993) represent New Zealand land and townscapes with varying degrees of human traces and everyday settings. Like the movies of Vincent Ward and Jane Campion, the poetry of Bill Manhire and Anna Jackson, the songs of Aldous Harding and Tiny Ruins, the novels of Catherine Chidgey and Elizabeth Knox, Robin’s photographs have stuck light and dark, the physical and the ethereal, to my heart from the first encounter. To stand before a Robin Morrison photograph is to absorb the transcendental – to be both of the work and beyond the work. It is traversing the ordinary and gatecrashing the extraordinary. You enter the unsayable: how can I convey the uncanny feeling that sits next to flashes of recognition?

In his preface, Robin claims the 1979 project as a “personal view of the South Island”: “I travelled 18,000 miles with my family into most corners of the South Island but concentrated more on areas that held my eye – in particular Central Otago. We stayed in the holiday houses of friends and enjoyed the sense of space and sense of being on the edge that we so rarely have in the closeness of a city.”’

Read the rest of the review here.