Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Show Time: - A&P Shows one of last bastions for city dwellers to encounter rural way of life

A photographic journey with Stephen Robinson Foreword by The Topp Twins & Bonus DVD
Published by PQ Blackwell Ltd, 21 November 2016, RRP: $59.95

ONCE DEEPLY RURAL, New Zealand has now fully embraced urban living, often to the detriment of the regions. The good old Agricultural & Pastoral (A&P) show is seemingly one of the last bastions of our rural past, offering city folk the opportunity to get up close and personal with farm animals, connect with the bucolic idyll and experience Kiwi culture at its finest.

Almost no one knows A&P shows and our agricultural heritage better than the eponymous Topp Twins, who have been attending them their whole lives. As Jools and Lynda write in their Foreword to Show Time: The A&P Show for all New Zealanders, “An affirmation of the rural way of life and a celebration of heartland New Zealand, A&P shows give people the opportunity to be recognised for what they’re good at, whether it’s growing vegetables, making pikelets, raising calves, chopping wood or shearing sheep.” 

The A&P show has been part of the New Zealand landscape for some 150 years, celebrating and showcasing the talents of rural communities. Traditionally, a family day out to check out the latest farm machinery, the A&P show was also an opportunity to compete in sheep shearing, wood chopping, bake-offs and animal shows. Bring on the hot dogs and candy floss, as children, women and men gathered for fun and frolics outdoor. 

High-profile photographer Stephen Robinson spent four years travelling the length and breadth of New Zealand, to capture the magic of our still flourishing and prolific A&P shows. There are some four shows happening on any given weekend in the North and South Islands. Stephen has a quirky and observant eye, and his images are full of authenticity. You couldn’t hope to find a more vital, humorous, charming, memorable record of today’s A&P show than that found within the pages of Show Time: The A&P Show for all New Zealanders. 

Stephen’s photographic journey took him deep into heartland New Zealand, including: Waimate North, Whangārei, Dargaville, Warkworth, Clevedon, Pukekohe, Rotorua, Tokoroa, Hawarden, Christchurch, Wanaka, Tokomairiro/Milton. The biggest of them all, the Canterbury A&P show, receives more than 100,000 visitors annually and hosted Prince Charles and Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall at its 150th anniversary in 2012. 

Show Time: The A&P Show for all New Zealanders features a bonus DVD with the Topp Twins inimitable and hilarious take on the A&P show, bringing nostalgia into the present day and reminding us of our rural roots, and the bonds that tie communities together. The book also includes a full list of A&P shows and events throughout the country and the months in which they are held.

STEPHEN ROBINSON lives in Auckland and works as a professional photographer, working with both commercial and private clients. He spends his time photographing people, places and food, and his interests include travel, cooking and planting trees. Stephen has a rough-hewn bach on Kawau Island and is the author of numerous books, including: Rural Delivery (Random House) and Artists @ Work (Penguin Books NZ). For more: http://www.stephenrobinsonphotography.co.nz.

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