From a Good Family (2009-14) is a self-portrait that references and sythesises iconic Maori paintings by Pakeha (European) artists. Based on the painting by Gottfried Lindauer of Maori woman Pare Watene, Gottfried's painting was based on an original photograph by an unknown photographer.
Concerned with wider archives and historic contexts as evidenced in ethnographic photography, painting, fashion and consumerism, this portrait is part of a larger exploration of cultural trade brokered by colonialism and empire.
Experiences and research gathered on a visit to New Zealand in 2004 informed the development of this portrait. While traveling on the islands, I was often mistaken as Maori, and met many mixed race people, some with Scottish names and ancestry.
The dignity and strength displayed in each of the portraits Gottfried Lindauer painted is inspiring in identifying alternative strong and serious images of women. From a Good Family provides a space to consider gender, race and bloodlines. The portrait adopts the conventions of a historical Maori portrait while at the same time selecting a range of symbols, textiles and images that make reference to cultural consumerism. Displaying a norwegian cardigan hand knitted by the artist's maternal Scottish granny, a Topshop t-shirt featuring images of migrating birds and presented with facsimiles of maori cultural objects, the portrait re-imagines and celebrates a vibrant identity of female strength and fertility.