Meg Porteous, <i>versions</i>, 2020, installation photo, cnr Devon and Liardet St, New Plymouth

Meg Porteous, versions, 2020, installation photo, cnr Devon and Liardet St, New Plymouth


6 Dec 2020 — 31 Jan 2021

Meg Porteous: Germinal centre

The Govett-Brewster Art Gallery / Len Lye Centre Artist Residency Programme 2020 supports three artists to undertake month-long residencies in their own homes and studios.

Outcomes of these residencies will be presented by the Gallery over 2020 and 2021. The programme is supported by Creative New Zealand and New Plymouth District Council.

An offsite exhibition of new work by one of the Govett-Brewster's 2020 artists ‘In Residence’.


Germinal centre is the outcome of Meg Porteous’ digital residency with the Govett-Brewster, which has had a focus on two key photographic genres: the family photograph and the stock image. Drawing on an archive of more than 30 years’ worth of negatives taken by her mother, Porteous examines the relationships – and tensions – between the dynamics of family, the family photo album, and the conventions (and hyper-proliferation) of stock photography.

Porteous engages with this archive of photographs by re-presenting and re-staging them, displaying both archival and reconstructed images from her childhood. Exhibited on posters and billboards around New Plymouth, Germinal centre troubles distinctions between the personal and the public; the private and the commercial; the advertisement and the artwork to examine how identity is constructed through the images we produce of ourselves.

Porteous’ images are often intentionally cropped, out of focus or blurred: qualities which put them at odds with the images we are used to seeing in these public modes of display. Presented at large-scale, they invoke at once a sense of intimacy and the feeling that something is being withheld. In Incubator (cc Mary Porteous) the cherubic image of a child’s crossed legs is unsettled by the tight crop at its torso, cutting off the figure’s upper half; while in Wilbur the artist’s presence in the frame is almost entirely obscured by the exaggerated features of her mother’s papier-mâché mask, Wilbur.

An extended exhibition text by Fergus Porteous is available for reading here.

Germinal centre can be viewed on billboards at the corner of Devon and Liardet Streets, New Plymouth Central and at 600 Devon Street East, Fitzroy; and on posters on St Aubyn Street, King Street, Brougham Street and Liardet Street. For more detailed information please visit the gallery or contact

With thanks to Creative New Zealand, BSEEN Media, Phantom Billstickers, Mary Porteous and Fergus Porteous for their support.


Meg Porteous is a Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland-based artist working primarily in photography and film, employing a mix of analogue and digital processes. Her practice considers common tropes in photography’s history – in particular documentary, surveillance and self-portraiture – focusing on the tension between truth and fiction that exists in the medium.

Porteous holds a BFA (Photography) from Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury and a MFA from Elam School of Fine Arts, The University of Auckland. Her recent exhibitions include The gift, self-initiated project (2020); Juncture, Neo Gracie (2020); Uncomfortable Silence, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū (2020); videowork, Window Gallery (2019); Tears in rain, Hopkinson Mossman (2019); Tilt, Hopkinson Mossman (2018).