Mahara Exhibition opening

The Mahara Gallery’s exhibition of about 50 Indian children’s vibrant home photos was opened yesterday evening.  If the local connection isn’t obvious, read on.

The photographs were taken by London-based New Zealand photographer Mo Greig — and the children who live in Dhan Karunai Illam children’s home in the Tamil Nadu town of Nilakottai, most of whom hadn’t touched a camera until they were shown the technology by Mo Greig.

Gallery Director Janet Bayly says the photographs and their accompanying biographical information tell the story of everyday life in the home.  “They are remarkable for their colour and the insight they provide into the children’s lives,” she says. “In their own way, they are a vibrant report back to the source of the generosity that created the home in the first place.”

The home was founded by author Jean Watson who sold her Wellington house more than 30 years ago and used the proceeds to buy the land for an Illam (home). Her story was told by Christchurch documentary-maker Gerard Smyth in his film, Aunty and the Star People.

Today, the Wellington-based Karunai Illam Trust supports the Dhan Karunai Illam and provides the children with an education. It offers a home to those who have either been orphaned or whose parents are unwell or live in poverty, to oversee their education.

Two other exhibitions were also opened: “Chain Reaction” is a display of contemporary hand weaving which will run in the Main Gallery until 9 September and features 22 works by members of the Professional Weavers Network of New Zealand.  Janet Bayly says the exhibition is a chain reaction of colour, with each exhibit incorporating two dominant colours.

The other exhibition is “A Girl Called Alice”, built around Alice Capewell, the Paraparaumu girl who sat for Frances Hodgkins during a painting trip to Kapiti in 1905. Alice became the subject of The Goose Girl which is one of the key works in the Field Collection.