Opo: The Hokianga Dolphin (#32)

Eric Lee-Johnson1955

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Eric Lee-Johnson’s Opo series is a landmark photo-essay. It illustrates the life of Opo, a dolphin who frequented Hokianga Harbour. During the summer of 1955–6, Lee-Johnson documented the ways locals and visitors interacted with the friendly dolphin and how Opo changed Opononi’s summertime beach culture. Such was Opo’s popularity, traffic jams occurred at this quiet seaside village during the weekends.

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  • Title: Opo: The Hokianga Dolphin (#32)
  • Creator: Eric Lee-Johnson
  • Date Created: 1955
  • Subject: Hokianga, New Zealand
  • Place Part Of: New Zealand
  • Description: Eric Lee-Johnson was born in Suva, Fiji in 1908 and moved to New Zealand in 1912 with his parents. He studied at Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland from 1923 to 1926, and worked in newspaper publishers Wilson & Horton’s printing department. In 1930 he travelled to London, where he spent eight years working as designer and typographer. At Camberwell Art School, Lee-Johnson studied lithography and he attended classes at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts. A retrospective exhibition of his paintings and drawings toured New Zealand in 1981–2.
  • Type: Photograph
  • Rights: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Elizabeth Lee-Johnson in memory of Eric Lee-Johnson, http://www.aucklandartgallery.com/terms-of-use
  • External Link: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki
  • Medium: gelatin silver print


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