F4 Collective, Maree Sheehan, Tudor Collins, Shaun Higgins
TSB Bank Wallace Arts Centre
Pah Homestead - 72 Hillsborough Rd, Hillsborough
21 May - 23 June 2019
Opens 6:00pm on Monday 27 May
Meet the Curator - Shaun Higgins on decay and degradation, Sun 9 June from 2:00 - 3:00pm
Part of the Auckland Festival of Photography
Pictorial curator Shaun Higgins, sound artist Maree Sheehan and F4 Art Collective have re-interpreted the work of Northland photographer Tudor Collins. The extraordinary story of the discovery and rescue of the work left behind by Collins is also told.
Collins (b.1898, Northland, d.1970, Auckland) was a farmer and bushman who taught himself photography and being freelance, photographed things that interested him in addition to paid jobs. The kauri forest and logging industry is an important theme in a body of work which left to posterity over 50,000 negatives. Recently rediscovered in an old garage on a farm, despite considerable deterioration, the work has been digitised and archived by the Auckland Museum.
Drawn together by a mutual fascination for the exquisite decay of these images on glass and film, the group “collaborate” 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, as we gaze through the defilement of the negatives into these threshold moments, figures merging with medium, redolent of human hope and expectation.
The lost innocence expressed by 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 underscore 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.
Fissure is the theme of the 2019 Auckland Festival of Photography, into which this exhibition was curated by Jessica Lim, director Angkor Photo Festival.
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.