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Down Under: Whole Serie Enlarge

About the Work

In the centre of Matamata is a Lord of the Rings statue. It reminds visitors that they have arrived at the movie location for the underground town of Hobbiton.
Tolkien's trilogy combines spectacle with a sentimental tale, a sure-fire Hollywood concoction. As in the more-recent Avatar, spectacle and tale come together in a fight between a pre-industrial paradise and an industrial hell. Hell loses. So where other than New Zealand, a reflection of the paradise thing if ever there was one, to film Lord of the Rings?
Not far from Matamata is Tauranga. Here, at the Battle of Gate Pa on 29 April 1864 the Maori were victorious over the British. It was the last time they would be. A carving marks the grave of their leader, Rawiri Puhiraki, The Maori helps his wounded foe. That bit of sentiment was not make-believe.

Down Under

In 2009 I went around the world. I had no justification other than accompanying my wife on one of her publisher's business trips. Before we set off, lots of people enquired whether we would be going 'down under'. Yes, we were going to Oz. But at our first port of call, Singapore, as I wandered about aimlessly, my wife away in business meetings, I stumbled across my first down under. I was rather pleased as I now had some additional justification, even a sense of pride in undertaking such an extravagant journey.
Because my wife publishes books in the English language, our trip called at English-speaking countries. Each had evolved, one way or another, from the British Empire. The three things I remember of that organisation is everyone saluting the flag on Empire Day, a big map of the world in the classroom, lots of it coloured red, and my father's Daily Express with its 'EMPIRE and Foreign Desk.'
This trip took me a little below those scanty and superficial memories. Even to this tourist it was clear that there was an underlying and special peculiarity to each of these English-speaking places, established long ago, a long way from their origin in empire.

″I still use the same approach to my work: I get an idea, think of the title and then make the work. So not much has changed since 1964″

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