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Object: Doublet (after Heavenly Creatures), Parker/Hulme crime scene, Port Hills, Christchurch, New Zealand

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Title Doublet (after Heavenly Creatures), Parker/Hulme crime scene, Port Hills, Christchurch, New Zealand
Production Shelton, Ann (photographer), 2001, Christchurch
Medium summary diptych of colour photographs, type C prints
Materials dye, photographic gelatin, resin-coated paper
Classification colour photographs, chromogenic colour prints, works of art
Technique colour photography
Credit line Purchased 2007
Registration number O.030854/1-2


Ann Shelton's Doublet

Doublet (after Heavenly Creatures), Parker/Hulme crime scene, Port Hills, Christchurch, New Zealand relates to one of the most infamous crimes in New Zealand history: the murder of Honora Parker by her daughter Pauline and her teenage friend Juliet Hulme, in Christchurch in 1954.

The story continues to capture the public imagination and has been the subject of ongoing speculation, countless newspaper articles, several books, and Peter Jackson’s 1994 film Heavenly Creatures.

Shelton presents us with an oddly banal scene in which no activity occurs, leaving us to ponder the significance of the site she has chosen to document. It could be anywhere, yet we nevertheless get the sense that something happened here. The mirroring of the two images creates further unease. The work’s title provides some clues but we are left to put the pieces together and construct the narrative. The power of the work lies in prolonging this moment of uncertainty – needing to question the veracity of what we are looking at – and destabilising our faith in the photographic image as truthful record.

This image is one of a number of works by New Zealand photographer Ann Shelton in Te Papa’s collection.

[Text originally written by Sarah Farrar for Toi Te Papa Art Newsletter, February 2011.]

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