Exhibition Details


Rim Books: Stella Brennan book launch Thread Between Darkness & Light

Essays by Dr. Susan Ballard, Dr. Kirsty Baker, Dr. Lissa Mitchell and Dr. Ross Galbreath.

A discussion with artist Stella Brennan, publisher and award-winning photographer Haru Sameshima, founder of Rim Books, and Shaun Higgins, Pictorial Curator at Auckland Museum, and co-editor, with Catherine Hammond, of A Different Light: First Photographs Of Aotearoa, recently published by Auckland University Press.

This 120 page photo book features an evocative collaborative essay by Susan Ballard, Professor of Art History at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington, Kirsty Baker, Curator at Te Whare Toi, and Lissa Mitchell, Curator of Historical Photography at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, bringing their unique perspectives to a text that breathes life into these spectral images.

Brennan’s documentation of her discovery process is complemented by historian Ross Galbreath’s riveting account of Louise’s adventurous mother Lucie, tracing her journey from birth in a London workhouse, to the 1871 Siege of Paris, to her arrival with her three daughters in 19th-century Tāmaki Makaurau. Thread Between Darkness and Light is not just a photobook; it’s a poignant bridge across generations, a tapestry woven from the traces of the past into the light of the present.

Stella Brennan is a writer and sculptor based in Tāmaki Makaurau. With a research-focussed practice spanning from the handmade to the highly mediated, her work prises open history, its losses and possibilities, interrogating colonialism, industrialisation and computerisation. Her video has screened at festivals including: the New Zealand International Film Festival; the Short Film Festival Oberhausen; Videotage Hong Kong; Recontres Internationale, George Pompidou Centre and been included in the Sydney and Liverpool Biennials. Her installation Wet Social Sculpture, featuring whale song, psychedelic film and a fully operational spa pool was a nominated finalist in the 2006 Walters Prize. Ancestor Technologies, curated by Kirsty Baker at the City Gallery Wellington (2023) gathered together 20 years of work, and was the first exhibition of the installation Thread Between Darkness and Light. Her works are held in the collections of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the Chartwell Trust.

Lissa Mitchell is a photographic historian and curator of photography at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. She is the author of Through Shaded Glass - women and photography in Aotearoa New Zealand 1860 to 1960 (2023) and contributed to An Alternative History of Photography (Prestel, 2022) and Flora - Celebrating Our Botanical World (Te Papa Press, 2023).

Kirsty Baker is a writer, art historian and curator at City Gallery Wellington Te Whare Toi, where her recent exhibitions include Ana Iti's I must shroud myself in a stinging nettle (2022), Stella Brennan's Ancestor Technologies (2023), Ngahuia Harrison's Coastal Cannibals (2023) and Julia Morison's Ode to Hilma (2024). Her writing on contemporary art has been published widely. Her book Sight Lines: Women and Art in Aotearoa will be published by Auckland University Press in 2024.

Susan Ballard is an art writer, curator and Professor of art history at Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of Wellington. Her work spans the fields of art history, creative nonfiction, and environmental humanities. Recent books include Alliances in the Anthropocene (with Christine Eriksen, Palgrave 2020) and Art and Nature in the Anthropocene: Planetary Aesthetics (Routledge 2021). Her curated exhibitions include Listening Stones Jumping Rocks (2021) and Folded Memory (2023) both at Te Pātaka Toi Adam Art Gallery. Her new book Shift Work: Art and Life in the Third Millennium (with Liz Linden) will be published by Punctum in 2025.

Ross Galbreath is an independent researcher and historian. He began as a scientist in DSIR, the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, but a few years before DSIR disappeared in the reforms of the 1980s he left to pursue what had previously been a part-time interest in history. After completing another Ph.D. he has written in various fields including environmental history (Working for Wildlife, 1993), history of science (DSIR: Making Science Work for New Zealand, 1998), business history (Energy and Enterprise: the Todd Family, 2010), and biographies of scientists G.M. and J.A. Thomson (Scholars and Gentlemen Both, 2002) and Walter Buller (The Reluctant Conservationist, 1989). It was during his research for this biography that he discovered an enigmatic Laurent figure and began a long quest to find who she was – which led fortuitously to his part in the present project. He continues to research and write in these and other fields in both science and history.


  • Free


  • Sat 22 Jun


  • 2:00 pm


  • 142 Great North Road
  • Grey Lynn
  • Auckland 1021