ROBERTA THORNLEY

ANTHEM, 6 September - 1 October 2011
"An anthem might be described as a song of celebration. For me it evokes ritual and ceremony. Our own ceremonies are often personal performances. They are moments we hold inside ourselves, upon ourselves and around us and they resonate with the same timbre.

Our own Anthems celebrate victory and loss and the unknown, as well as hope, promise and disaster."


ROBERTA THORNLEY
Auckland, 2011


"From the age of 10, like a lot of Kiwi kids, I spent most Saturdays playing sport. My chosen sport was hockey.

After a few years the Saturdays turned into weekends and by the time I was 16 I was playing the game with a "compression of attention" (1) only few can understand. I trained with dedication 10 times a week for 4 different teams and always managed the time to train by myself on top of all of that; it was never too early or too late to fit another one in. This often meant I ran to the Team Run, so as to make it twice as long, or I'd run countless times up and down our large and steep back yard, swerving in and out of plum-tree-lemon-tree-plum-again and up the stairs to the washing line, in order to replicate the unpredictable manner and course a hockey player may take on the pitch.

Other training plans were put in place. A tennis ball in the toe of one of Mum's tights hung on the rotating washing line. It was great for practising trapping a ball with dead precision. I also used the grooved walls of my parents' bungalow for leaning on, face forward and running against until my legs were burning and my lungs stung. This was in aid of getting my legs stronger and the fast-twitch muscle fibers working with quicker attention. [The odd and seemingly contradictory thing about being a sportsperson is the time you spend at rest.]

After collapsing to the ground on the lawn below the high kitchen window I would roll onto the dewy, twilight-stung grass and stare off into the back yard. It was here in this moment of rest while I gasped for air that I felt a sense of anticipation. I felt an immediacy with the environment around me. The new sun rising above my head, the day turning with all its life into the night, the coolness of the grass beneath me, the salt running from my pores and over my lips, my misty breath against the cooling air and the weird combination of marbled red skin and blue veins that always showed up when the air was cool and my body was steaming hot.

With each new training session came the hope and anticipation of doing something new, of stretching myself that much further. (Today might I do something I never thought I would, both emotionally and physically?) These are the moments that occur on the cusp "between promise and disaster" and these were the moments when, as an athlete, I learnt the most about myself; when the barnacles of our existence were showing on my flesh and in the air and on my clothes.

These are the moments that I would like to create photographs about."

(1) The String Theory
David Foster Wallace
Esquire Magazine,1996

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