Photography and the post-European settlement history of New Zealand are linked. Aberhart is aware of the power of the medium: "there are some fantastic images that if New Zealanders as a whole saw, I know they'd take them into their hearts and their psyche and I know they would make us grow as a people and a country..." As Robert Frost said of poetry "It is a way of remembering that which it would impoverish us to forget." Aberhart works in a mode reflective of his photographic predecessors. "...what I've tried to do is take the sensibility and sensitivity and the aesthetic, that overall self-awareness of all that early photography, and try and do the same in New Zealand but incorporate some aspects of contemporary art practice into it."
Time is an essential ingredient. Aberhart is a photographer who is interested in the 'magic' or transcendent possibilities of photography and the affect this can have on our imaginations and aspirations. Geraldine Barlow writes "[he] chooses a process of stillness, an extended measure of moments over which light acts upon a prepared surface,...There is a special sense of light in Aberhart's work, never entirely of the now." Further, Peter Fay writes "Not so much a light that reveals, but a light that makes truths knowable."
The artist has said "If you do it well...the place goes from the specific to the universal". In that vein his work is internationally exhibited, and his photographs are in the collections in all major New Zealand galleries and in a good number of international institutions including three Australian State galleries, Museum of Art, Macau, Readers Digest Collection and Hallmark Card Collection, USA, Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam.
Text by Paul McNamara
Laurence was the recipient of an Arts Foundation Laureate Award in 2013.