14 Apr Collection Focus: Pohangina Stream, Frank Denton
This series looks closer at some lesser known works in the Sarjeant’s collection. Gallery Registrar Ben Davis discusses a photograph by Frank Denton.
A short stroll from my house and I’m walking amongst tree lined banks above the Whanganui River. These trees are always framing my view, only providing glimpses of the River. Similar to Frank Denton’s viewpoint when he took this photograph Pohangina Stream, the work not only reminds me of my brief immersions in the natural world but also the contrast of being home bound during the lockdown and staring out the window or at a screen.
The way Denton has used the trees to frame the stream creates a frame within a frame, leading the eye of the viewer and providing context, revealing where he was standing. This is a well-used compositional technique often employing such things as car windows, doorways, and pulled back curtains. This technique in photography is as old as the medium itself. The oldest surviving photograph, View from the Window at Le Gras, created by French inventor Nicéphore Niépce in around 1826 shows parts of buildings and the surrounding countryside from a high window. It required a very long exposure estimated to have continued for several days.