A new show at Sarjeant On The Quay takes a look at New Zealand photography, the camera in New Zealand and the artists who wield it.

See What I Can See was formally opened by Cabinet Minister Chris Finlayson on June 24.

The show takes its name from a book of the same name by writer, painter, anthologist, literary critic and art curator, Gregory O'Brien. See What I Can See was published by Auckland University Press last year.

The show was co-curated by Mr O'Brien and Greg Donson from the Sarjeant.


Mr Donson said when he became aware of Mr O'Brien's book he thought it would be a good idea to have a companion show.

"So I decided to talk to Greg about it, and Greg thought it was a good idea."
Some of the images in the show are from the book, while others are from the Sarjeant's own collection.

"It doesn't go everywhere the book goes, but it has key images from the book," Mr Donson said.

He said having the show at the Sarjeant made sense because the gallery has a "rich photographic collection".

Mr O'Brien said the Sarjeant's photographic collection was admired by galleries throughout the country.

"It's a lovely place to be putting on a show that celebrates photography the way that this does."

Most of the photos are by recognised photographers, although some of the older images are by unknown photographers. Some of the photographers have Whanganui connections, such as Laurence Aberhart and Anne Noble.

"There's a bit in the book about selfies and about how photos follow us everywhere - from book covers to packets of cornflakes. Then the show takes that further and looks at how those images can become more than that," Mr O'Brien said.

He said the book was aimed at young people while the Sarjeant's show was for people of all ages.

"We chose images with a lot of character and energy, and I guess you can see that when you look around the show. They're curious images; images that do what photographs can do very well - tweak your imagination as well as your eye."

See What I Can See runs until September 11 at Sarjeant On The Quay.