Dotted across the Northland countryside on roadsides, hilltops and marae sit dozens of tiny, wooden churches.
Centuries of religious tradition and Maori culture were incorporated into these places of worship built following the arrival in the Hokianga of European Christian missionaries or later appropriated to accommodate followers of Ratana. In many instances, the settlements they were built to serve have ebbed away, leaving these buildings as the only reminder of ages past and the whanau – Maori and Pakeha, lay and religious – who gathered in them to celebrate life, death, triumph or sorrow.
The churches stand with what might be described as a quiet contentment but in differing states of repair. Where one houses nothing more than birds in the ceiling as the seasons gnaw at its exterior, others remain as functioning churches. They are buildings that offer quiet solitude to those who open their doors.
FADE invites viewers to step into these churches and to explore their sense of fade, both physical and temporal. In many ways these qualities act to increase their sense of the spiritual. Photography is a medium that also relies on fade and shadow for its power and this exhibition would like to show the churches as images that have been developing slowly over the last 150 years, their losses incorporated into their sense of space and into their conversations with whatever lies beyond. The exhibition aims to show the churches as they are now, their histories known, their futures unknown.
Images by Kathrin Simon are accompanied with writing by historian Matt Elliott.
Kathrin Simon is an award-winning photographer with a focus on documentary and storytelling. She has a passion and eye for unique stories and presents them in a way that intrigues and inspires the audience. She works on self-initiated projects energized by what inspires herself in the world that surrounds her – the topics are divers. Kathrin has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions in New Zealand and abroad. She enjoys collaborating with artist of other disciplines to intensify the story she is telling. Her last show Full Moon Kingdom was one of the leading visual arts events of the Auckland Arts Festival 2016. FADE has first been exhibited at the Sir James Wallace Arts Trust Pah Homestead in Auckland for 10 weeks in 2016.