Roadside survey reveals the truth

EYE OPENER: Through his photographs, Mark Purdom manages to find beauty in the rubbish New Zealanders' throw away.
EYE OPENER: Through his photographs, Mark Purdom manages to find beauty in the rubbish New Zealanders’ throw away.

What happens to the 3.6 million tonnes of trash New Zealanders throw away each year? A local photographer depicts this in his new series.

Mark Purdom’s Roadside Trash prints are alongside a variety of works which are featured in Survey Hamilton, which is currently exhibiting at the Waikato Museum.

The series looks at the trash New Zealanders have thrown away along the same stretch of road in Hamilton.

Purdom visited the road on a Monday over several weeks, collecting a bag of rubbish which he then took back to the studio to photograph.

“I wanted to maintain that survey strategy so I visited the same place every week, collected a bag of rubbish, brought it back to the studio, and set it up with the same lights,” Purdom said.

Purdom comes from an environmental and ecological background, and through his research he learned New Zealanders throw away over 3.6 million tonnes of trash.

“You would see a lot of wrappers from McDonald’s, cigarette packets, beer and soft drink cans; that was probably what I collected the most of, some things I kept because I couldn’t face throwing them away.”

Purdom insists his work is not meant to be controversial, rather it was produced to raise awareness.

“Im not trying to make too much of a political statement I prefer the questions to be asked, I don’t necessarily give the answers, the questions are raised.“

Aside from the commentary, Purdom was also interested in the intrinsic beauty seen in the decomposition of various pieces.

“I’ve got a whole lot of cigarette packets with the warning signs, and while they’re decomposing and breaking down they take on another life, the message becomes stronger, it becomes even more grotesk,” Purdom said.

Purdom is currently lecturing at the Waikato Institute of Technology, and working on his solo show From certainty to doubt, which he plans to exhibit in 2016.

“My photos don’t necessarily have the answers, I like to stimulate interest to get people thinking, and to bring up questions in people’s minds.”