In this second kōrero on Jordan Quinnell (Ngā Ruahine, Taranaki and Tūwharetoa), one of our Summer Scholarship recipients, we look at another image he created that has a very personal connection. (See the previous kōrero on the website for the first image, and Jordan’s bio.)
"From the very beginning in my research process, I kept finding accounts of a Māori Queen in Taranaki and the carnivals and performances that she would organise with a committee and put on for the benefit of the public. This intrigued me as it featured Māori heavily, was something that I did not know had occurred and also because in other parts of the country it was mostly Pākehā woman being crowned Carnival Queens and planning the associated events that came with the position - only one other place besides South Taranaki had a Māori Queen at this time.
"At first I didn’t think that I would use this concept as the basis for a final work. But ultimately it popped up so much and was so engrained within the events of South Taranaki during WW2, that it needed to be brought out into the open. But because there was little photographic evidence, it was hard to come up with a concrete image of what the final print could be.
"Which is also why the final look of the print is a bit abstract compared to the trench digger (see previous post). Ultimately I believe it still works and at the same time creates an interesting commentary of what their life would of been when they weren’t organising and planning festivals and events - did they work, did they already have kids, were they struggling during the war etc?
"Originally when deciding on a concept for this print, I had thought of numerous street views I could do where you would see a full on procession with the queen at the centre, but for some reason this didn’t sit right with me. So instead while searching through some archival databases I came across the inspiration for the final print you see; a faraway shot of the town with Taranaki in the background.
"I felt like with these prints it was important to showcase the maunga, Taranaki, as that is such an important symbol especially to anyone who grew up there. This piece also features a depiction of my great grandmother and a baby - who I am also related to. I felt that it was important to include an image that was personal to me, and while I couldn’t do this with the first print, I felt it necessary to do it for this one.
"I also think it is important that I depicted my great grandmother in the clothes she was wearing in the reference image. I know in historical photographs there are a lot of stereotypical depictions of what the “perfect” “typical” Māori woman” is - beautiful, fair skinned, long flowing hair wearing traditional dress and posed in intriguing ways to entice people to visit. But this image replaces that and showcases what was then the typical modern Māori woman.
"This print was easier than the first one, as I tried to use a similar style and colour palette to make them look cohesive."
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