Gallery Conscious Consuming

Captives of Our Desire

Editor’s note | Our idealized, nostalgic image of farm life has been expressed in Hellenistic paintings, the Renaissance and through the centuries until today. We still apply a ‘pastoral ideal’ to the food we eat. These romanticized portraits of farm animals challenge us to confront each animal eye-to-eye. First, to recognize the beauty of the individual, then to consider this encounter in the context of the anonymous cruelty of factory farming, and finally to consider our relationship to animals as ‘meat, dairy, and eggs’.


Finding beauty where none is immediately apparent and value in banality, photographic artist Cally Whitham’s camera collects images of ordinary things we no longer see.

Perceiving, altering and reflecting through nostalgia and memory, she is a pictorialist at heart, layering her photographs with emotion, transmuting the ordinary into the romantic, nostalgic and surreal.

Presenting unpromising subjects in an ideal way, she asks the viewer to look more closely at the forgotten or taken-for-granted, to reawaken the value these subjects once held.

New Zealand born, Cally Whitham is interested in exotic, endemic and introduced kinds of things. She recalls, with perhaps romantic notions, how they were once perceived. Working in the rural margins, she seeks to capture those things that have become more significant in the memory than in the seeing, and invites viewers to reflect on their rural ancestry.

Driven by the desire to preserve forever the memory of her surroundings, aged 11 she used her first roll of film at Christmas to capture favorite things, her aunt’s farm, an old house she wanted to live in and a big tree at the beach.

Touched with beauty, her works explore, through ordinariness and familiarity, the ways in which personal milieus are recorded, returning to subjects recaptured in shadows of times past, and seeking the subtle, forgotten and overlooked.


About Cally Whitham

Taking an idealistic view of the world, Cally Whitham records the ordinary, transforming it into a surreal image, reflecting the way things are perceived and altered through nostalgia and memory. Driven by a desire to remember, Whitham uses her camera to collect images, which allows her to preserve her surroundings forever.

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