Te Teko (2008- )has been a decade long project and ongoing. It began soon after the death of my Father, Arapeta Tautuku Orme (Ngati Awa & Te Ararwa). Te Teko project explores the small, predominantly Maori, populated community of which my Father, my Grandmother and my Great Grandmother were born. Although I never got to document my Father’s life here I continue to document his spirit, through our whanau who live here today, soaking up both the past and the present. TeTeko allows insight into the history of whanau, the land, our iwi and the consequences of The Raupatu (land confiscation) from colonialism during the 19th century and its lingering impact today.
Despite historical challenges our iwi never let go of their spirit, their culture and their mana. This is their story.
Redemption (2012) is an exploration of the historic idea centred around female sin but was first a response to an environment I stumbled across, while on a solo road trip, in New Zealand. Quite by accident I came across a convent house, rich with history, and founded by Sister Aubert who housed illegitimate children. I’m not a religious person but there was something powerful about this very ‘female’ environment that has been untouched for decades.
Through both feminism and femininity Redemption explores the historic idea of female energy, sin, temptation and the desire to not deny one’s own limitations which was once considered outgrowths of ‘feminine character.’ Historically many religions believe that women ‘apparently’ did not face the same temptations as men.
Free from others for one’s own self-definition; Self-centredness, and self-identity can be considered the very essence of one’s soul, power and liberation. Themes I am perpetually drawn to.
Herstory (2017 - ) makes Her experience visible.
Herstory is a personal project I've been working on for a few years. The name, although widely used now, was prompted by one of my feminist slogan stickers positioned loudly on my diary in 1985. I was also in the first intake of feminist studies at Canterbury university. We were sick of History and I was very vocal about that. He was everywhere. The he's who were given a voice for many a thought and many an action.
And now, Herstory Project, is prompted by my own sense of ordinariness. A feeling of being 'middle. 'Not best, not worst, just traversing somewhere in-between. But always with this sense of wanting to be heard and knowing that I, like all of us, have something to give. Something to tell. Herstory gives voice to those of us in between. Those of us who would like to be heard, even if quietly, as we move through uncharted territory.
The Herstory process is collaborative...An awakening for my subjects and myself; a process of discovery, empowerment and liberation for both of us.
This is Not The Red Carpet
This Is Not The Red Carpet (1993) series are from a photographic essay I shot while at the Cannes Film Festival.
While the famous were gracing the red carpet, I turned my gaze on to the photographers on La Croisette below.
I was the only female photographer amidst a sea of men photographing the mostly obliging, often half naked, sunbathing women who were prepared to do anything for attention and hope they may find fame.
In the wake of the #MeToo campaign and through the lens of a new wave of feminism, the images and the words I wrote to accompany them 25 years ago are as relevant now as ever.
Series of 42 images
Responding to the life around her, Orme’s most recent project, Stroke (2019) gives light to her seventy nine year old mother, with so much vitality and intelligence, grappling new life after her stroke. Orme’s days were spent at her bedside both wanting the same thing. A good recovery. While a very personal project It sheds light on an often ignored generation and the profound effects of illness as we age.
Freedom (2010) grew out of my personal aging and tiresome domestic responsibility at this time. Freedom is informed in part by a female gaze approach and became an escape as I revisited the freedom of my own youth in the 1970’s, characterized by a feminine, dreamlike feeling, that was one of constant discovery.
Through my subjects Kitty & Lili, who themselves were on the brink of growing up, we discovered the world around and within us enabling me to also live the lightness of youth as I felt so much heaviness at that time.
Freedom is loosely based on Franzen’s novel ‘Freedom’ set against the domestic backdrop of the Berglund family as their lives develop and then their happiness falls apart along with the coming of age story of their son.