Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Peter Peryer, 1941 - 2018

Peter Peryer in his Devonport studio, 1985. Photo by Jim Barr and Mary Barr

The artist Peter Peryer died on Sunday. I say 'artist' advisedly, because Peter was a photographer who came of age in the 1970s, when contemporary photography was scrapping its way into the art system: galleries, criticism, the market.

He was a great artist, and also one of the first artists I was able to get to know as a human being, not the subject of an art history lecture. I've been lucky enough to be able to buy a few examples of his work over the years - including a portrait photo of a set of salad servers that was an engagement gift to ourselves over a decade ago now. I was even luckier to be able to work with him when I was director at The Dowse, on the exhibition Peter Peryer: A Careful Eye, beautifully curated by Sian Van Dyk.

It's a cliche to say that artists make you look at the world in a different way, but Peter's visual sense literally infected me. When I'd been spending time with him, my eyes would attune themselves to his imagery, and walking through the world after that felt like being a roving Peter Peryer image-making machine - snap snap snap. He was a characterful and distinctive man, articulate, gorgeously presented, ever so romantic, and possessed of the most wonderfully naughty gurgling laugh. I got to spend Sunday night thinking about him and writing a memorial of sorts for him for Radio New Zealand today, which you can listen to here.

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