Wayne Barrar

Wayne Barrar

Associate Professor; Associate Head of Research; Whiti o Rehua School of Art

Associate Professor Wayne Barrar is a photographic-based, visual arts researcher. His international exhibition and publication work principally investigates issues related to landscape change and the cultural redefinition of nature. His research interests also encompass the history of New Zealand photography and documentary practices. Barrar teaches papers within the photography major of the BDes(Hons) programme and supervises within the MFA and PhD programmes.

  • Expertise

    Contemporary photographic practice; landscape visualisation; documentary issues; photographic technologies and photographic histories (especially nineteenth century New Zealand).

  • Research Highlights

    The Glass Archive (2013-2017)
    This exhibition and publication project focusses on diatoms (a type of algae) as varied and abstract forms with a diverse set of cultural narratives.

    The work in the exhibition centers on large scale photomicrographs. The majority of these have been made from historical archived microscope slides (some of which date from as early as the 1850s. Instead of approaching the microscopic slide simply as a scientific object, the work in this exhibition treats the slide as an artifact imbued with additional meanings and potential.

    The images are also grounded firmly in the geographies of ‘location’ or ‘site’, with the broader project including documentation of the sites where these forms were found. A major focus relates to the extraordinary diatom sites found in Oamaru, New Zealand. Exhibited in New Zealand, USA and the Netherlands.

    Hoxhas Bunkers (2012)
    The series Hoxha’s Bunkers documents part of a network believed to have involved some 700,000 bunkers constructed in Albania by that country’s former dictator, Enver Hoxha. Motivated by an increasing sense of paranoia, Hoxha ordered the construction of bunkers at a ratio of approximately one bunker for every four Albanians. Their crippling cost of production is matched today by the steep costs of removal. Consequently, the bunkers have often been recycled and commodified, serving as cafes, bars, rubbish dumps, and animal housing, among many other local uses. Only recently have they been systematically removed in some areas as an attempt at erasure.

    An Expanding Subterra (2011)
    A major project comprising a solo exhibition and monographic book. Curated by Aaron Kreisler for Dunedin Public Art Gallery, the exhibition toured to three further venues - American University Museum, Washington DC, City Gallery Wellington and Rotorua Museum. The project photographically analyses the commodification of underground space in four countries, challenges notions of spatial and landscape definition and critiques concepts of the vernacular in site production.

    Torbay ti kouka (2011)
    Torbay ti kouka is a photographic project comprised of a 66-page book, Torbay ti kouka: a New Zealand tree in the English Riviera, and a supporting associated exhibition at McNamara Gallery (Whanganui). It photographically investigates the globalised translocation of the iconic New Zealand plant species Cordyline australis (cabbage tree) in South West England. The book, in particular, allows for a comparative analysis of cultural meaning to be considered across the two geographic zones. Research was undertaken as part of a three-month, international research residency at the Land/Water and the Visual Arts research group, University of Plymouth (2011).


  • Qualifications

    BSc (Canterbury University)
    PGDipFA (Auckland University)
    MDes (Massey University)

  • Supervision


    Kevin Douglas Miles


    Primary supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Wayne Barrar
    Co-supervisor: Prof. Anne Noble

    Mizuho Nishioka
    A string of data: disrupting, altering and generating the photographic image


    Primary supervisor: Assoc. Prof. Wayne Barrar
    Co-supervisor: Prof. Anne Noble