Sunday, March 20, 2011

Black #14: Adam Custins shoots portraits

Gregor McGregor, his wife Pura and their son George, 1910
Photo: Frank. J. Denton, Whanganui
We are shooting portraits this issue with photographer Adam Custins, based upon the legacy of Rachael's great-great grandmother Te Pura McGregor and Rachael's ancestry, or whakapapa. We have realised the story in a modern-retro style with Maori, European and Chinese models.  Rachael is also Samoan, German, Irish and Scottish in her bloodline so this shoot is all about representing the multi-cultural bloodlines that abound in Aotearoa. Adam has been shooting on large format Polaroid film and to date the models have been; Yasmine @ Clyne, Danielle @ 62, Eve @ August, Seon @ Clyne, and Henry and Grace.

Te Pura Manihera was a chieftainess of Ngā Poutama at Matahiwi pa, forty miles north of Whanganui and the daughter of  Te Manihera who married Scotsman Gregor McGregor. She was the first Maori woman to receive an O.B.E (Order of the British Empire) and often led the haka for her tribe, sometimes in battle, in the late 19th Century. Later that night she would be comfortable integrating with the new settlers in a stylish Victorian ensemble and was capable of eloquent conversation. In one of numerous historical passages about Te Pura she is described as follows; "Pura was always beautifully dressed and never lost her grace and charm. She always walked slowly. At the same time she retained her skill in leading the haka, especially when it was one of welcome, and immediately afterwards, with all the dignity of true Maori aristocracy, she could adorn any (European) drawing-room, knowing instinctively what to do." Below is a photo of Te Pura (centre, with mere) and group at Tesla Studios, Whanganui, circa 1900...look out for the modern interpretation featuring Kiri and Jason Nathan, Ann Demeulemeester, Comme Des Garcons, Therese Rawsthorne, Wunderkammer Jewellery and more....Te Manihera, Te Pura, Maata, Te Huiakama, Hori, Rachael...arohanui..x