Te Teko (2009- )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 three generations before them were born. Although I never got to document my Father’s life here I continue to document his mauri, through our whanau who live here today, soaking up both the past and the present. TeTeko allows insight into the history of memory, whanau, whenua, 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 our 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 - ) Her stories being visible.
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, Aotearoa New Zealand. We were sick of History. 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. 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...A process of discovery, empowerment and liberation for both of us.
This is Not The Red Carpet
This Is Not The Red Carpet (1993)
The scenes of this project, taken during the Cannes International Film Festival 1993, are unthinkable now. For me, it was unthinkable and unbelievable then. Before me was a microcosm of unequal power between men and women. No matter how loud feminists shouted, at that time, the dominant culture was deaf. Feminism was a dirty word.
While the famous graced the red carpet above, the photographers traversed below finding subjects willing to be photographed. Women who were socialised into wanting it and men possessing women who wanted to embody it. Unequal nakedness, the voyeur and the passive, symbolising also a world where photography had been mostly the domain of men.
It’s black and white. A historic document of how things were, and a reminder of how far we’ve come when confronted with a glimpse of culture that gave rise to the Weinsteins of now.
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.
Undiscovered (2017) grew out of my personal ageing and tiresome domestic responsibility at this time. Undiscovered 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, 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.