Preview: Thursday 6:30pm February 16th
“A place where people are the currency and the outside world fades out of mind.”
During May 2015, photographer Cam McLaren made the journey to an area in the South Island of New Zealand called Haupiri. Amongst towering mountains and lush green fields, it is the home of the closed religious community known as ‘Gloriavale’.
Originally founded in 1969 by Australian born evangelist Neville Cooper, aka Hopeful Christian, Gloriavale has developed on the present Haupiri site into a 600 strong exclusive community.
“This was a chance for me to experience a different way of life,” says McLaren, “In many ways it felt like a vision into another time. Even though some of the facilities are state of the art, there was no cellphone reception and only a handful of computers... I couldn't help but feel a sense of intrigue. Imagine living in a community you built with your hands.You spend each day with your friends and family, you have everything you need to survive. No distractions. It's some kind of bubble fantasy that has become a reality. It is a place where people are the currency and the outside world fades out of mind.”
The photographs show intimate scenes from the everyday life of this community; domestic interiors, social activities, and quiet moments of solitude. An enchanting dining hall, the youth choir, and the surrounding landscapes are just some of the scenes that McLaren has captured.
From Cam McLaren’s astute camera work and impressive access come enduring black and white images of an otherwise inaccessible world, each one suggesting an entire chapter of an untold New Zealand narrative. This is an exclusive invite into a highly exclusive community - this is New Zealand photography at its finest.