Amidst all the Hobbit hoopla with its seven-story promo posters and street-light banners and tie-in toys and movie ticket lines and book and all the rest, New Zealand’s capital city – Wellington’s – got a secret.
Two of them date to the early 1940s and that classic age of streamline moderne, quintessential Deco - the age when Flash Gordon conquered the universe. It was the pinnacle of step-Mayan, chrome-curve streamline architecture. It was ultimate Modernism in that breathless moment of triumph before the joy of it was cut short by the horrors of the Second World War, and changed forever.
They’re just part of the scenery. Nobody pays them any attention. And that’s a pity, because they’re magnificent examples of the art.
The other week I went for a wander down Lambton Quay armed with the camera and a notion of capturing the abstraction, the shape as idea; the feel of the buildings as Gotham; the sense of the late 1930s. Some of these pictures are exactly as they emerged. Others…well, I’ve been a bit adventurous with filters. Other than some minor cropping, though, they’re exactly what I saw through the lens.
What I was interested in was the interplay of shape and colour, the way that these conveyed the essential feel of a bygone age. Did it work? I don’t know. But it was fun to do.
I find it amazing that these slices of style can be found in the city. To me they’re inspiring – inspiring to me as a writer, inspiring to me as a photographer. A prompt for thought, a prompt for the imagination. And definitely not Middle Earth.
Is there a place you know that is a little slice of Gotham?
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2012