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Mythology of Place - Homage to James K Baxter - © 1993-94 - Lloyd Godman - Lawrence Jones


Introduction - Lloyd Godman


The power of place is such that it can centre our world. It can become a force that confines, restricts and binds, but the same inexplicable force can also become a different power; a centre from which a vortex of perceptive experiences grow. 

Brighton is a small seaside township near Dunedin, it is a place where James K Baxter lived and grew up as a boy, a place that inspired Baxter, a place that became the centre of his perceptive world, a place that was important in his writing. A place of personal 

Professor Lawrence Jones and myself have also lived in Brighton for 20 years, in fact, close to the Bedford Parade house that Baxter grew up in. While there are deviations in our experiences, between us we have walked the same beaches as Baxter, paused on the very same headlands to watch the same ocean swirl the long thick leathers of kelp amid a frenzy of spray. Smelt the same dense vapours of fresh salt air as the curtains drift off the ocean, climbed over the very same sand enshrined rocks and fished in the same crystal clear pools.  Swam in the same embracing sea water, paddled in the same mysteriously black river and hid in the hollows of the same caves. Heard the same haunting cry of the gulls amid the rustle of flax and witnessed the same razored gales that cut incessantly at any obstacle. In essence breathed the same unique airs. 

As a component of the Baxter Conference held in Dunedin this year I was presented with an opportunity to work collaboratively with Lawrence on a project called "Mythology of Place" about Baxter and his three worlds of Brighton, Central Otago, and Dunedin. Photographically the project involved locating and photographing areas of significance to Baxter's poems, in some cases the exact rocks or trees that featured in his writing. While there is the undeniable representation in the photographs that locates them both in time and place, the real challenge was the manifestation of Baxter's mythology in the visual image through the use of symbol, metaphor and detail. 

This we saw as an acknowledgment of both place and heritage. Affirmation of Brighton as the centre of our experiential vortex and also an explicit occasion to pay homage to Baxter's legacy of mythology. 

Lloyd Godman 1994

Lloyd Godman's Brighton House

Foot it to the Brighton Map
Lawrence Jones (left) and Lloyd Godman (right)
outside Lawrence's house on Bedford Parade during the Baxter Conference 1994
(photograph Max Lowrey)