FRED GRAHAM Creator of Forms Te Tohunga Auaha
Maria De Jong with Fred Graham,
Huia Publishers, Wellington 2013
Some years ago I sat next to an elderly gentleman at a Tauranga Art Gallery opening. He came from around the corner (in rural terms) where I had been living. He asked me to change seats with him as he had to say a few words for the opening. He was Fred Graham. In my time around South Auckland I must have seen his breathtaking work without knowing who had created it. This book (which I haven’t finished reading) is a warts and all look into his life and work and contains a comprehensive section of images. It’s very easy to read and the images are excellent.
I was deeply moved by the simplicity of the New Zealand War Memorial, 2005 in the United Nations Memorial cemetery, Busan, Korea. Two rectangular stone slabs like headstones against a plaqued “gravestone” The images are instantly identifiable as of New Zealand. “The women who are left behind have to suffer the loss of their men being killed. The moko pattern on the memorial reminds us of their tears. Forty-five cuts in the stone represent the New Zealanders who died in the Korean War.
I was also moved by the matter of a fact way Fred Graham describes the Maori reality of the time. “A Maori couldn’t get his hair cut in some barber shops and couldn’t drink in a private bar. I remember in 1959 Kingseat Hospital medical officer Dr Henry Bennett was refused a drink in a private bar in the Papakura Hotel because he was Maori.”
Fred Graham and Maria De Jong are to be congratulated for the depth of the social and artistic realities of this book.