May 21 - June 23
F4 Collective (The artists)
Maree Sheehan (Composer)
Tudor Collins (1898–1970) New Zealand Documentary Photographer held in the collection of the AWMM.
Shaun Higgins (Curator of Pictorial at the Auckland War Memorial Museum)
21 May – 23 June
AV and Photography Galleries.
Official opening Monday 27 May, 6-8pm
Pictorial curator Shaun Higgins, sound artist Maree Sheehan and F4 Art Collective have collaborated to re-interpret the work of Northland photographer Tudor Collins (b.1898, Northland, d.1970, Auckland) to create this installation.
Intended to function together toward the production of meaning or interpretation, their work occupies two rooms: the video and soundscape in one room; an assembly of collages, a large scale print from a Collins image, an original Collins self-portrait and the story of his archive in another room. These are not individual art works – they are parts of the whole.
Self-taught photographer and Northland farmer and bushman, Collins was also a freelance photographer, commissioned by the Weekly News to cover events such as the Napier earthquake in 1931 to the 1953 royal visit in Fiji. From 1924, he and his wife Annie ran a business in Warkworth which included wedding and local event photography, selling electrical supplies and even running a petrol station. In addition to paid jobs, Collins photographed the things that interested him.
The extraordinary story of the recent rediscovery and rescue, and subsequent digitised archive of the large body of work (over 50,000 negatives) is told.
Drawn together by a mutual fascination for the exquisite decay of these images on glass and film, the group ‘collaborates’ with the archive to create narratives drawing on two themes in Collins’ work: imagery of kauri logging; and photographs of brides. The bridal portraits are heavily degraded, pocked and mouldy through the indignities of time. There is a sense of loss and passing, and as we gaze through the defilement of the negatives into these threshold moments, figures merge with medium, redolent of human hope and expectation.
The lost innocence expressed by these decomposing brides is juxtaposed with images of the plunder of virgin forest, highlighting the aesthetics of dystopia and pathos created by photographic entropy. Sound and lyric enhance this aesthetic, suggesting the ecological and cultural fissure that underscores the tragedy of deforestation. The narrative is brought full circle by a wall size Collins image, fused through chemical reaction into an allegorical portrait of children turning into trees.
Maree Sheehan (Ngāti Maniapoto-Waikato, Ngāti Tuwharetoa, Raukawa, Ngāti Tahu- Ngāti Whaoa) has been writing music and songs for over twenty years. An acclaimed mentor for emerging talent, Maree is also a sound designer and writes original music for various media and for other artists. She is currently developing an innovative project in sonic portraiture toward an expression of Wāhine Māori identity.
Shaun Higgins is Curator, Pictorial at Auckland War Memorial Museum | Tāmaki Paenga Hira. He looks after photography and artwork collections in a documentary heritage context focusing on research topics such as New Zealand photographic history, photographic technology identification and attribution. In spare time he plays with cameras old and new in order to live and breathe the practice of photography in all its forms.
F4 Art Collective formed in 2006 and are a family work together on projects often with others; they are Susan Jowsey, Mercy, Jesse and Marcus Williams. They won the Premier Wallace Art Award in 2009 https://jowseywilliams.co.nz/ and have exhibited widely as a collective. Their work seeks to understand how a family might grow up together with art practice as integral to everyday life.
The Passing – reviewed in PhotoForum by Peter Simpson
CLICK HERE to read the review
Image Credit: Tudor Collins; Negative from collection of Auckland War Memorial Museum | Tāmaki Paenga Hira.
Part of the Auckland Festival of Photography 2019 Programme. Fissure is the theme of this year’s festival, which is curated by Jessica Lim, director Angkor Photo Festival.