Bodies of Work /


Wake, site of Wahine sinking, Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand,, 2008. Digital C-type photographs, 1520 × 1220 mm.


“This eerily peaceful scene brings to mind the calm in the air before a big storm hits. It was photographed by Ann Shelton near Seatoun in Wellington Harbour close to where the Wahine— a passenger ferry that travelled from Lyttleton to Wellington—sank on April 10th, 1968. Often referred to as New Zealand’s worst modern maritime disaster, it claimed 52 lives.

Over her career, Shelton has photographed the empty landscapes of uncomfortable events, ranging from approximated murder scenes to failed communities on isolated land offered to war veterans. She writes: “I am interested in obscured or lost histories, urban mythology and the many displaced narratives that circulate in relation to a given place. Many of my works take as their subject trauma, anxiety, violence and failure, they ask what is remembered, what is recorded and reiterated.”

Often these scenes are presented as mirror images, implying that a photograph alone is incapable of encapsulating the full story and that with any given situation there will always be multiple, hidden  perspectives.”

—Sian van Dyk, Curator, Dowse Art Gallery