My recent series of large-scale portraits represent my ongoing fascination with genealogy and heritage. In particular, I’m inspired by New Zealand faces that reflect a mixed ethnic background. I’m also intrigued by the idea of genetic mosaicism, a condition or phenomenon in which a person can present with two or more different sets of cells that reflect a different genetic make-up. Working with predominantly found images that inspire and move me, I interpret them in a traditional painterly way that celebrates and respects these images.
In New Zealand we have become a conglomeration, a melting pot of many different genealogies from diverse origins that have evolved over time to contribute to today’s multicultural society. I am one of those people and so are my children. I am of mixed Dutch, French and Italian blood. Three of my children reflect a mix of Samoan, German and Croatian blood and my youngest child is of mixed Dutch and Maori ethnicity.
Many of our young people (particularly in Auckland), look ambiguously ethnic, physically displaying their mixed heritage. They grow up surrounded by different cultures. As they subsequently learn to understand their own lineage and culture they develop their own sense of identity.
In this body of work I have portrayed some images of New Zealand young people, both contemporary and historical, with whom I can personally identify. I was particularly attracted to them because they reflect some very interesting physical attributes that represent their mixed lineage or unusual genetic conditions.