Museum and Heritage Studies, 2017
It is not just by coincidence or happy accident that Richard Frater’s ambrotype Not Titled is on display in Victoria University’s Miramar Creative Centre. It is ideally and purposefully situated. New, but somehow nostalgic. Exciting, beautiful and, ultimately, incredibly relevant to the University’s newest state-of-the-art campus.
Tucked just around the corner from the motion capture lab, Not Titled lies in wait. As visitors venture past, they can admire Frater’s ambrotype which depicts a replica of the iconic ring from the Lord of the Rings trilogy—but in Sauron-helmet silver rather than gold. The silver used to coat the ring was extracted from processed 16mm film shot by Frater for (A Film Called) Ellipsis, part of the In Camera project, which was hosted by the University’s own Adam Art Gallery Te Pātaka Toi in 2011.
Richard Frater, a Wellingtonian born in 1984, is a great example of New Zealand creative ingenuity. He chose to effectively ‘recycle’ the silver from the film used in (A Film Called) Ellipsis. His work frequently reflects on human interaction with nature and draws attention to the many threats facing our natural environment—often with a Kiwi twist. Through his art, he has commented on the lives of ‘urban’ kākā in Wellington in Living Cities 2011- at the Adam Art Gallery, the sinking of the Rainbow Warrior in New 15 at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art in Melbourne, and, more recently, live oysters in Stop Shell (Oyster Version) at The Dowse. Frater is currently based in Berlin.
An ambrotype, also known as a collodian positive, is a positive photograph printed on glass. At first glance, the ring itself appears to be three-dimensional as the light catches the art work, and it seems to float within the frame. The work is part of the Victoria University of Wellington Art Collection and was acquired in 2017. Not Titled is the only work by Frater in the collection currently—a new direction, steeped in success, for new premises.
The Miramar Creative Centre opened in 2017 and resembles a miniature film studio. The Centre acts as the campus for students studying towards a Master of Design Technology or a Master of Fine Arts (Creative Practice). It boasts a motion capture lab, editing suites, a green screen area and many other gadgets required to make a home-grown blockbuster. The Creative Centre is located on Park Road in Miramar, rubbing shoulders with internationally-recognised studios like Weta Workshop, Park Road Post Production and Stone St Studios, amongst others, and is the latest addition to perhaps the most prosperous peninsula in the movie-making world. Students fortunate enough to study at the Centre will direct the future of New Zealand’s film industry—long live Wellywood!