Representing ‘the sunny Britain of the south’ : visual cultures of weather in nineteenth-century Aotearoa New Zealand. (2020)
Type of ContentTheses / Dissertations
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree NameMaster of Arts
PublisherUniversity of Canterbury
AuthorsRimbovska, Bojanashow all
As a ubiquitous feature of landscape, the weather has often been regarded as a backdrop to a scene and has largely eluded critical discussion in New Zealand’s art histories. However, its symbolic richness and its centrality within the visual culture designed to market the colony means that weather can be seen as an important tool in the establishment of a colonial settler culture in Aotearoa New Zealand, and its visual representation therefore merits close attention. Pākehā artists engaging with the landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand were inspired, confused, and often hindered by the weather conditions they encountered. The images they produced did not necessarily represent the weather ‘as it was’. Indeed, representations of New Zealand’s weather were often ideological, and were used as propaganda by individuals and companies seeking to further project imperial power over the ‘Antipodes’. Through an examination of landscape painting and photography, this thesis aims to uncover the multiple ways weather imagery could be read, and the ways in which these images helped inform colonial settlers’ perception of place. It considers how visual representations of Aotearoa’s weather circulated through the print and spectacle-driven entertainment cultures of the nineteenth century, and explores the kind of their influence these weatherscapes had over the British audiences who encountered them. Ultimately, by positioning weather as both atmospheric phenomenon and a cultural construction I foreground its presence within images and demonstrate that they remain important sources through which to consider nineteenth-century approaches to art, science, and colonial expansion.