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Solar Plexus records.

Identifier: MSS-Archives-FA 2012/01

Scope and Contents

The Solar Plexus records has been arranged into five series: Series 1: Material related to annual performances; Series 2: Large photographic prints; Series 3: Soundrecordings; Series 4: Ephemera and publications; and Series 5: Teaching material.

Series 1: Material related to annual performances, contains documentation of annual Solar Plexus events and photographs of live performances, correspondence and administration, including documentation relating to the International Radio Solstice Celebration.

Series 2: Large photographic prints, includes photographs by Gil Hanly, Geoff Chapple and Stuart Sontier, documenting Solar Plexus performances.

Series 3: Soundrecordings, contains Radio Solstice recordings on magnetic tape.

Series 4: Ephemera and publications, contains press clippings relating to Solar Plexus performances.

Series 5: Teaching material, contains material amassed for a first year project for Elam students relating to Solar Plexus performances.

In 1989, an exhibition of material relating to the history of Solar Plexus was held at George Fraser Gallery. The collection includes material specifically relating to this exhibition, such as a call for material and exhibition texts.


  • 1970 - 1992


Conditions Governing Access

Not restricted.

Solar Plexus History

First initiated by Philip (Phil) Dadson, Solar Plexus was a collaborative drumming event that took place on the Winter Solstice between 1970 and the late 1980s. Performances, held on the summit and crater of Maungawhau (Mount Eden), incorporated sound, movement and sculptural installations and involved a changing rotation of participants. The event took place from dawn till dusk and was designed to celebrate the natural waves in the air and earth’s pulse.

Between 1982 and 1985, Solar Plexus was involved in the International Radio Solstice Celebration organised by The Wilderness Foundation (New York). Through satellite connections, live performances in Auckland were broadcast to an international audience alongside performances from across the globe.

Phil Dadson Biographical Note

Phil Dadson studied at Elam School of Fine Arts from 1965 to 1971, breaking mid-way through his degree to travel to England. It was in London that Dadson became involved with an experimental music class at the Morley College for Working Men & Women, run by Cornelius Cardew. From this group the original London Scratch Orchestra was formed and on Dadson’s return to New Zealand in 1969 he started an antipodean branch. Out of this New Zealand based Scratch Orchestra, From Scratch evolved.

From Scratch utilised traditional percussion combined with found and constructed instruments, including tuned banks of PVC pipes, whistlers, growlers and rattle-jackets. Dadson and From Scratch built an international reputation for their experimental sound and video recordings, installations and performances. In 1994, the video work PACIFIC 3,2,1 ZERO (Part 1), a protest piece against nuclear testing in the Pacific, won the Grand Prix and first prize in its category at the Cannes/Midem Visual Music Awards.

Alongside his involvement with From Scratch, Dadson held the position of Senior Lecturer and became Head of Intermedia at Elam School of Fine Arts from 1986 through to 2000. In 2001, Dadson received an Arts Foundation Laureate Award and in 2003 received an Artist-to-Antarctica fellowship. In 2006, Dadson was selected as a finalist for the Walter’s Prize held at Auckland Art Gallery and in 2011 participated in the Kermadec Ocean Project.


1.6 metres (2 boxes, 1 poster folder, 2 magnetic tapes.)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donated by Philip Dadson from July 1989.


Inventory of the Solar Plexus records
Selina Foote
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Fine Arts Special Collections, University of Auckland Repository

5 Alfred Street
Private Bag 92019
Auckland 1142 New Zealand