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Icebound: Jonathan Kay

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Sampling #1, Ice from iceberg from Haupapa/Tasman glacial lake, Digital image, 2021

5 Nov 2022 – 6 Feb 2023

Icebound is a photographic exhibition by Jonathan Kay. It contemplates the fragility of our landscapes through surveying of two Te Waipounamu glaciers - Haupapa/Tasman and Te Moeka o Tūawe/Fox. Kay explored these glaciers as a way of making sense of the environments impacted by climate change in Aotearoa.

Over five years, and several visits, Kay spent time on these glaciers - observing the lakes and icebergs which carve off during melting and following the streams and rivers which connect this water system. He engaged with a range of photographic processes throughout, using them to investigate the specific environments which form this ancient ecosystem.

Kay’s intensely coloured fabric cyanotypes utilise an early, camera-less photographic technology to capture the physicality and chemistry of the ice and water, while his black and white photographs eschew the spectacular, attempting instead to draw our attention more intimately to a microscopic world.

The timing of Icebound is all too relevant, especially in the wake of devastating climate disasters, and the twenty-sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 26). Environmental concerns, and the part humans have played in the earth’s undeniable warming, are rarely far from the forefront of people’s minds in today’s socio-political climate.

Icebound offers audiences a chance to examine and reflect on our environment in Aotearoa, and the perilous future our glaciers face in a rapidly warming world.

Jonathan Kay is a photographic artist and lecturer living in Te Whanganui-a-Tara/Wellington. His previous exhibitions include Cryosphere at Ashburton Art Gallery & Jhana Millers Gallery, Negative Mass at Gus Fisher Gallery, WAI—Manga Maha, Awa Kotahi | One River, Many Streams at Aratoi Wairarapa Museum of Art and History, and Nothing but Dust at Wellington Museum. Kay teaches at Whiti o Rehua School of Art, Massey University, New Zealand.

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