Interpreting Aotearoa: Vicky Thomas

D-Photo looks at interesting photographers doing interesting things – Vicky Thomas talks to us about putting together her upcoming Auckland Festival of Photography exhibition, Hue and Saturation, with collaborator Deane-Rose Ngatai.

D-Photo: Can you briefly describe the Hue and Saturation exhibition?

Vicky Thomas: It is an exhibition of poster style photographic prints inspired by Papatuanuku and Ranginui.

Waikato, Vicky Thomas

In what ways has the Papa and Rangi mythology inspired the images?

It is important to understand from a Maori perspective, Papa and Rangi are not considered as myth. There is a sense of great comfort as a Maori artist to explore concepts within a Maori world-view. It supports and enables me to conclude my own interpretations of the New Zealand and world in which I live, and express my thoughts and ideas with confidence.

Why the title Hue and Saturation?

I have always considered the camera to be the tool best suited to my abilities as an artist. I feel the same way about digital media that allows you to manipulate information and create an art form. The title, Hue and Saturation, is literally referencing the Photoshop tool that both Deane and I have used in order to achieve our visual outcomes.

Deane-Rose Ngatai

Have you and Deane collaborated closely for the project, or is it more two distinct bodies of works?

We have definitely collaborated in the sense that we worked on the concept together. Drawing on Rangi and Papa, sharing our respective understandings and manipulating our work using Hue and Saturation, was a joint decision. Our works, however, are distinctly different in terms of process and visual outcome. Producing prints in poster form is in part our way of highlighting photography as a means of creating artwork in any format. We aren’t great believers of photography being restricted to so-called regular or usually accepted forms of photographic output. Another reason that was important to us was creating works that are accessible. Through our experiences of working in a commercial gallery we are well aware of market realities. Photography has a way to go in proving itself as a valued art form in New Zealand. Our local market is small and our local Maori art market is even smaller.

Te Waihou, Vicky Thomas

How many works are being displayed, and is there anything particular in the way they are to be exhibited?

There are thirteen works and all are unframed. The walls will be put to good use.

Do you have a favourite image in the exhibition?

Not really, but I have enjoyed the painterly aspects that have emerged in Te Waihou [above].

Deane-Rose Ngatai

Can you tell me a little about the Kura gallery?

Kura opened its doors in Auckland in December 2002 and Wellington in 2000, representing established and emerging Maori and New Zealand artists. We are particularly passionate about promoting Maori art. Our exhibition space Te Akau - meaning; where the water meets the land and the land meets the water - the waterfront, was the name given to us by Ngati Whatua. It opened in 2010 and is a commercial exhibition space dedicated to the promotion of Maori art.

What’s the most challenging thing about managing the gallery?

Not having enough space to showcase the amazing talent we have in New Zealand.

Waitakere, Vicky Thomas

What other exhibitions are you looking forward to at the festival?

Chris McLennan: A Year in the Wild Life Of

Chen Hairwoven: Features of China

John Miller and Gil Hanly: Nga Puna Waihanga

Hue and Saturation opens at central Auckland's Kura Gallery on Tuesday, June 4 at 5pm and runs until June 30 as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography.

Deane-Rose Ngatai