Although I have no tattoos myself I’m fascinated by the characters that cover their bodies with them and the artists that create them. Traditional Maori tattoo or Tā Moko are representations of bloodlines etched onto the skin – inked stories of genealogy, history and ancestry that are crafted specifically for the person who wears them.
Since 1990 there has been a huge resurgence in the practice of Tā Moko for both men and women – as a sign of cultural identity and a reflection of the general revival of the Maori language and culture.
In a suburb of south Auckland I recently met up with Gordon Toi who greets me with an easy smile and a bone crushing handshake. Gordon is a prolific artist who trained as a traditional carver before exploring other forms of Maori art such as Ta Moko, painting, and stone sculpture.
His philosophy and craft remain true to his teachings to preserve the integrity of his culture, and this is reflected in his workspace which is a far cry from the commercial tattoo studios of the High Street. Filled with artifacts from his travels, books, pictures, paintings and a shrine in one corner – He Tohu O Te Wa has a intimate and spiritual feel.
It’s a moving experience to witness the Maori prayer that Gordon delivers before he begins the tattoo and a privilege to be invited into his world to photograph him at work….
FLAMING YOUTH – a book of photographs by Glendyn Irvin from Puberty Blues.
I’ve been following this mega talented image maker since I first saw Cracker Bag and thereafter the brilliant Playground so I was excited to share his latest project – in his own words & photographs and available here
I started documenting the making of the show from the start. Like visual notes the photographs became part of the process of discovery of how the series would look and feel. From casting and location scouting to scene ideas, documenting a colour or how the light looked at a certain time of day. What worked, what didn’t. The people, places and things that make up the texture and tone of Puberty Blues.
Most of the time the photos were taken in the moments just before ‘Action!’ was called. Or in-between ‘takes’ to maintain focus and momentum throughout the stop / start rhythm of shooting. That small amount of precious time just before the cameras roll. I would sometimes take a quick shot just as that moment of transformation would take place, from ‘actor’ to ‘character’.
Sometimes the photo would become the key on how to shoot a scene. A way of trying to find the essence, or a reduction to a single image. An attempt to find stillness in and amongst the chaos of a film shoot.
recent stills from a short film I’m working on with Lady Winwoods Maggot – whose music is best described as
‘The Clash mating with Johnny Cash’.
Cinematography ShowReel so far….for me it’s an ongoing, always evolving and ever inspiring work in progress.
Here’s the first 100 seconds…..
music by Devendra Banhart