Seawater intake, Pacific Ocean

Wayne Barrar, Artist

This is one of the photographs in our collection. It was made in Lake Grassmere, Marlborough, New Zealand in 1989.
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Object Detail

About the Work
“The way this work acts like a road and takes you out to sea through the vanishing point grabs me and makes me feel like I’m being plunged into the ocean. The image has a beautiful formal simplicity that is satisfying to the eye.” – Zahra Killeen-Chance, ‘My Choice’ October 2021

Part of a collection of works from the series "Saltworks: The processed landscape" which was exhibited and toured in 1989. These images were taken at the Lake Grassmere Saltworks, which is situated 34km south east of Blenheim. The artist has maintained a keen interest in landscapes altered by human intervention through industry and the commercialisation of the land. In the catalogue from this exhibition Joanna Paul writes of his work in her essay' A Human Ecology': " In pursuit of intelligibility, Wayne Barrar's very formal photographs attain great beauty, in their refusal to interpret or judge they acquire presence. Dispassion might be called cold. There is no personal narrative in his chronology of process, but to my mind the photographs generally and those of the saltworks in particular have a brilliance and a life quickened by their singular embodiment of a vision of landscape...Salt itself is interestingly both natural and inorganic. Colour in the white landscape might be read as heraldic (Loading truck (harvest) 1988); stockpiled spare parts are as orderly in their field of flowers as the deserted battlefield of Robert Bression's 'Lancelot du lac'. A marginal reading might link the crystallization of salt with alchemical transformation, a residue of the narrative - not something teased out by the artist. The shift into colour from graphic teacherly black and white is no indulgence. Colour is a statement of the salt-making process. Blue registers winter and water depth. Red - salinity, summer, krill, evaporation. The photographs trace the two -year cycle of salt crystalization - camera assiduously patiently set up (to avoid constant winds) in the stillness of dawn or evening light. Painstaking preparation, stalking of subject, tiresome journeys transformed into soignée images. Cibachrome does not impart extra gloss but is a logical medium for the mirror-still surfaces of sea and sky, for colour itself quasi-"artificial". "
Image 270 x 355mm
Support 310 x 405mm
Cibachrome print
Colour photograph showing a concrete and steel structure with rungs installed on the margin of sand and edge of the sea. It stretches out into the sea and has a railing on the left. Seawater intake structure is placed at the centre of the image, with its length extending towards the vanishing point. Where the structure ends, the distant horizon line of the sea merges with the similarly coloured sky and slight shadows of distant landforms are barely visible along the horizon. The sand is black and the sea is a milky pale blue.
Credit Line
Collection of the Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui. Purchased, 1989.
Collection Type
Permanent collection
Acquisition Date



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