Exhibition of New Plymouth throughout the ages

Look back to the future: The corner of Currie Street and Devon Street East/West and (bottom) Ariki Street/Egmont Street from 1939 and 1999. Images on loan from Bob Murray private collection.

CAPTION: (Top) The corner of Currie Street and Devon Street East/West from 1939 and 1999
(Bottom) Ariki Street/Egmont Street from 1939 and 1999.
Images on loan from Bob Murray private collection.

More than twenty years ago Bob Murray uncovered a collection of intriguing images his grandad had taken in the 1930s.

He found the 80 glass plate negatives tucked away in a basement workshop, he got them developed, and he then marveled as he discovered that each one was of a street in New Plymouth’s CBD.

He says he doesn’t know why his grandad Tony Thorne had taken the photos, but nevertheless he was delighted to find a snapshot of the way the city looked in 1939.

In 1999 Bob, a keen photographer himself, decided he would recreate the old photos and in the process he’d see how the city had changed.

Those two sets of photos are now being exhibited alongside each other at NPDC’s Puke Ariki, with Bob capturing updated images that will soon be added to the collection.

By July, Points of View: Collecting Continued will feature photos of the same New Plymouth streets from 1939, 1999 and 2019.

“Everyone I have talked to about the project has expressed a genuine interest,” Bob says.

“A genuine interest in them, the story behind how I found them and recovered them, and then went back to all the same 63 positions where my grandfather took those photos.”

“It means a lot to me to have my grandfather Tony’s extraordinary set of photographs of New Plymouth, as well as the photos I have taken, exhibited at the Puke Ariki Museum.

“I’m really excited that even more people can enjoy them.”

The set of photos fro 1939 were taken on a glass plate camera (which was antiquated even in the late 30s) while Bob’s 1999 photos were taken on a 35mm camera. His photos from this year will be shot on a digital camera.

Puke Ariki acting director Colleen Mullins says the exhibition is fascinating.

“It gives people the chance to step back in time and see how our city has changed,” she says.

Points of View: Collecting Continued runs from March 15 to September 1 at the Lane Gallery, Level 2, Puke Ariki Library. It runs alongside Whare Kahurangi: 100 Years of Collecting, which opens on April 6 and runs until October 6.