Gloriavale Exhibition, Cam McLaren

5 years ago by

Born in Canada, Cam McLaren found a passion for documentary photography at a young age, learning the craft from his father in their darkroom. With a strong interest in human circumstance, McLaren’s work often focuses on sharing stories about people and communities which are little known, always with a strong theme of bringing the unseen, unique or unusual to the viewer. His work is very much based around personal connections and intimate moments.

Cam McLaren’s latest exhibition ‘Gloriavale’ begins this week at Black Asterisk, 10 Ponsonby Road, in Auckland.
Opening evening: Thursday 16 February 2017 6:30pm – 9:00pm.
Gloriavale runs until February 28th.

“In May of 2015 I made the journey to an area in the South Island of New Zealand called Haupiri. This place lies amongst towering mountains and lush green fields, it is the home of the closed religious community known as ‘Gloriavale’.

This was a chance for me to experience a different way of life. 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 from what I could see.

Originally founded in 1969 by an Australian-born evangelist Neville Cooper aka Hopeful Christian, it is a place where people are the currency and the outside world fades out of mind.

The families have one of the largest head counts in the world. Many of the young adults will have a number of children by the time they are in their early twenties. They are also almost completely self-sufficient. With commercial grade facilities it is clear how they manage to provide for the residents, nearing close to 600 people at the time of my visit.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of intrigue for this community. Living in what you built. You spend each day with your friends and family, you have everything you need to survive. No distractions.

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 captured. It’s some kind of bubble fantasy that has become a reality.”

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