S E R U M blog is about women everyday but what better way to celebrate the official day than to feature a bad one. International Women’s Day is a public holiday in some countries – Cuba, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Zambia and Kazakhstan to name a few. In some places, it is a day of protest; in others, it is a day that celebrates womanhood. Kate Jenkins, content creator at Red Rat in South Auckland is our woman this year. I asked her about being young, female and in charge in 2019, here’s what she had to say:
What do you do?
Photographer. Stylist. Hair & Makeup.
Where do you work?
Red Rat Clothing but I still do freelance jobs on the side.
What do you love about your job?
EVERYTHING. Everyday is different, working with people and being able to inspire are the biggest perks though.
How do you feel about equality, would you say you’re a feminist?
I 100% believe in equality and I’d like to say I identify as one but I actually hate the word as I believe it leads uneducated people to believe it means females first – I prefer the term equalist.
What makes you feel empowered?
Being able to dress how I want, act how I want and work where I want.
What is your view on the word ‘bitch’?
I believe it depends entirely on context and how sensitive a person is, I like to think I’m quite open minded and that it isn’t always used in a negative manner so it hasn’t been intended to offend. But everybody is different and reacts differently so in my opinion people need to keep that in mind when communicating.
What’s your fav album right now?
I basically only listen to seshollowaterboyz, Lil Peep, wicca phase springs eternal and Blink182 nowadays. (I’m an emo kid that never truely grew up) Hahahaha. But this week I’ve been listening to the Bones x Ross Dylan album a lot again, its called SongsThatRemindYouOfHome (Bones really doesn’t seem to like space bars).
The Storytellers is a research project executed by author, event manager, researcher and creative director of the website Africa On My Sleeve, Makanaka Tuwe. Now living in Morocco, Maka has been running projects for years. This one in particular began as a university requirement for her masters qualification, but grew to become an intrinsic bond between the nine young Afro/Kiwi women involved; exploring ways to shift the mainstream narrative of African people and perceptions of them, the answer was to become the storytellers themselves.
Maka says “Over a period of two months The Storytellers and I met on Sunday afternoons and what was a creative research project soon became a space of healing, seeing ourselves reflected in our worlds and a safe space were we could unravel. Through the creation of content we produced visual outputs that explore and share the experiences of third culture identity, African representation, being a woman of colour, black love, cultural heritage, colourism, tokenism and intersectionality within African identity.”
“On the food chain of life it goes white men, white women, black men, black women.” – Makanaka Tuwe.
“This research is aiming to provide an impetus for researchers, policy makers and those interested in African development to start exploring different participatory and alternative methodologies to countering the issues that come with migration, identity and representation for people of African descent in the New Zealand context. I begin the exegesis with a personal narrative I wrote as a reflexive diary entry during the research process. The decision to begin Chapter One with Home but never Home was to highlight the reality of navigating life as a woman of African descent in New Zealand and the conversations I engage in about identity and belongingness.” Download Maka’s research HERE.
Go behind the scenes with S E R U M and T H ES T O R Y T E L L E R S photo shoot/interview processes below:
“For a long time I felt ‘stuck’ between living in western societies norm and following the path of my cultures. Unfortunately, society made me feel discouraged to be who I intrinsically and biologically am. I was trying to mould myself into someone I wasn’t just to fit in and feel ‘white’ – for lack of a better word. Eventually, the more I grew, I started to learn more about my culture, heritage and customs and realised that in order of representing who my family and I am, I would have to stand out at times. I wouldn’t need to wear my hair straight to school or eat promptly with a fork and knife. Some people took my dad’s broken English and heavy accent to mean ‘welfare’ or ‘refuge’, when I saw it as intelligence and wisdom. My brother would even simplify or change his name so people wouldn’t overlook his CV or just to make it easier for people. My dark-skinned friends and I would be labelled at school as the troubled kids and be disciplined without having done anything wrong. Women in my family who wear cultural clothing in public would be labelled, ridiculed, mocked or stared at when they were innocently walking through the city. I am now at a place where I am 100% proud to be a Moroccan-Samoan Kiwi. The values I learn from each enable me to grow, I feel like I have roots when before I felt discouraged, ashamed and a little lost. I love celebrating everyones differences from the inside to the outside because with difference there is no learning, growing or understanding.This song is about finding my love and appreciation for my heritage and culture in my early adulthood.” – Laila. Listen to her song HERE.
“Orang Asli means original people” Libby tells me over a morning coffee in the only open cafe we can find over Christmas/New Years of 2018 in Mangawhai, New Zealand. She has just returned from a one year trip to Malaysia. Predominantly a resident of England, Libby has ties to New Zealand after attending high school in Cambridge for a few years. She is a photographer, visual artist, traveler and poet. While visiting Gua Musang in the Kelantan region she unexpectedly set out on a photo journalism trip deep into the Malaysian jungle, which is one of the oldest in the world. “At the time I was just hanging about [Kuala Lumpur] with my artist friends and then the news kind of grabbed me, the logging that was happening at the time. I wanted – just to know more.”
Libby kept a travel diary documenting her experience with the indigenous from her mother’s homeland, Malaysia. It would turn out to be a magical trip, a once in a lifetime experience she won’t forget. Logging photos of her experience, the post is a nostalgic throwback and a beautiful account of a spiritual experience that I fully recommend!
EXCERPT FROM LIBBY’S TRAVEL BLOG:
“The sacred site we were soon to visit is a large cave, further into the jungle, called Gua Janggut. The hallowed space is revered, not only by the Temiar but also the Negrito community, another Orang Asli group that live within the area. They speak a separate language known as Mendriq, and there are about 220 of them left, making this a very endangered language. Before heading to the cave, we visited the Mendriq village and we received another blessing from their local elder in order to enter. They too, used a Tualang candle. “
“There are various gateways named here; Pintu Raso, Pintu Sindat, Pintu Haluan, Pintu Kong connecting to the other worlds. It was a quiet and potent sensation simply being in this space. Although I was given permission to take photographs here, it almost felt wrong. Only the Shaman can enter the deepest parts of the cave.”
” The earth here is a deep and vibrant red. When it floods, it’s like blood. The Temiar referred to the floods that abolished their housing and brought disaster to the whole of the Kelantan region as the infamous Bah Merah (red floods). As trees are cut, they no longer soak up the rainfall. Silt and other debris is carried downstream by the flow of rainwater into the rivers. Eventually the rivers fill with silt and burst their banks. The ‘killer’ Bah Merah of 2014 rose thirty meters above the level of the river. “
“Much like the beliefs of the Temiar, the Mendriq also explained that if the construction of the hydroelectric dam was to continue, flooding over Gua Janggut, terrible consequences would take place as the balance of nature is disturbed further and the forest spirits are angered,” Libby writes.
At the beginning of 2019 Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern spoke in the session Safeguarding Our Planet alongside broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough, Ardern was asked by former US Vice-President Al Gore what she would say to world leaders who don’t believe the climate crisis is real.
“I wonder whether or not I would say anything or if I would just show them something,” she said. “It only takes a trip to the Pacific to see that climate change isn’t a hypothetical, and you don’t have to know anything about the science … to have someone from the Pacific island nations take you to a place they used to play as a child on the coast and show you where they used to stand and where the water now rises.”
East Asia is another area of the world feeling the affects of climate change. In the past year alone there were typhoons in Japan and East Asia, flooding in Japan and China and drought in Central Europe. Commercial logging and deforestation on the continent contributes heavily to this damage.
“Malaysia has one of the world’s highest deforestation rates. These are valuable ecosystems and are the most ancient and beautiful, tropical forests I’ve ever seen. We must fight this before it is too late. As Orang Asli are displaced from their land because of logging, they are abject to poverty. The once clear river water is now polluted and floods will only worsen. We must learn from the native people and also become guardians of the forest and it’s creatures. Soon, all we will have are these fake paintings, towering over like imprints of a forgotten past.
“As the shape of the Malaysian jungle shifts, so do these cultures.
I am fascinated to see how their values take form in the moving landscape of their lives.”
In an ancient area of the world, now functioning amidst a quietly raging money machine intertwined with corruption, there is hope that although indigenous people and their values have been compromised within these societal ‘upgrades’, the now-visibly damaging effects on the earth by these processes, can be restored or at least healed using the values of the very people in which industrial destruction has disregarded. Even in the face of a) extinction for animals and b) genocide for people. Although it is widely accepted among indigenous and other minority cultures, when sacred sites and ancient graves are destroyed for example, there’s nothing that can rectify some spiritual damage, simultaneously it is clear the only way to survive harmoniously is to have a conversation and gain an understanding in order to work together going forward. It is obvious that the earth as a vessel is angry with humanity in its current state, changes must be made. Share some of Libby’s journey into the Malaysian jungle and her experience with the Orang Asli or ‘original people’ below:
Photographer and creative director Ashley Church caught up with S E R U M over email for chats about her latest Exhibition ‘You Give Me Fever’ which is on at Hunters & Collectors in Wellington this February. We talk about her working relationship with dear friend and true artist Xoe Hall – when these two creative forces combine they become Fever Hotel, specialising in clothing design, photography and stylingwhich you can check out HERE. We also talk about the legacy Hunters & Collectors has made for Wellington fashion.
SERUM:How did Fever Hotel come about?
A: We had been collaborating for years, Xoe and I would often photograph Xoe’s rad clothing she would make or decorate. When we got over submitting our work to other publications… we decided fuck it, we’ll make a blog and publish ourselves.
SERUM:Who are Fever Hotel?
A: Ashley Church & Xoe Hall.
SERUM:What does Fever Hotel do?
A: We do whatever inspires us at the time. But mostly it’s Xoe decorating second skins with me photographing them how we want to and we get our friends to model for us. We also feature artists work & have vacancies for artistic submissions!
SERUM:Is Fever Hotel you’re main hustle or side hustle?
A: Side hustle, not really a hustle though, it’s chill. We do what we want when we want to, and do our best to disregard social media pressures or norms.
SERUM:How would you describe your photographic style?
A: A bit sassy, a bit sexy and I am obsessed with eye popping colours and shooting against the grain. And I love juxtaposition.
SERUM:What other jobs/creative passions do you work on?
A: My own thang Dinosaurtoast, which is photography & creative direction and me and my partner recently bought a house, so a lot of house renos too!
SERUM:What have been some of your favourite or more memorable projects to date?
A: Such a hard question, because I love all our collabs for FH, every one of them is different!! Both Part 1 & 2 of the Heartbreak Double Feature – we went all out with lighting, set design and everything. They were rad to shoot and had us punching the air in excitement.
SERUM: What is it about working with Xoe that you would say makes Fever Hotel special to you?
A: Fever Hotel can only happen when Xoe and I work on shit together, because of the way we collaborate, ideas just come magically and sporadically. That’s the beauty of Fever Hotel. We do what we want, when we’re in the mood. I think we don’t try to force anything, if it feels right it feels right and we know. So if your working on something and it feels right, keep going!
SERUM:How would you describe what Hunters & Collectors means to Wellington city and also the connection between H&C and Fever Hotel?
A: Hunters has been around since before I was born, it’s an integral part of Cuba Street & Wellington cities fashion history. Hunters as been helping people express themselves for years via fashion! Chrissy and Charlotte, at Hunters, have always supported Fever Hotel – letting us do window displays, Xoe has hand painted their stairwell with a rad dragon and has many hand decorated items for sale through the shop! Love the collaboration and inclusivity for artists and especially now there is an exhibition space upstairs!
SERUM:What are your top 3 creative inspirations that give you fever right now?
A: Insanely bright colours, neons mostly. And I love when shit matches.
Glitter, forever glitter.
And anything a little bit weird, over the top, and 80s.
SERUM:What are some projects Fever Hotel are looking forward to in 2019?
A: Right at this moment – our You Give Me Fever Exhibition… Xoe’s got heaps on the go at the moment, and I’ve got some rad ideas for photoshoots! Will keep you posted!
SERUM:Describe a work day in the life of Ash.
A: I get up have my breaky, hang out with my 2 pups and husband. Drive 10 mins down the road to work, TeacherTalk, where I am a marketing gal! Xoe and I work at TeacherTalk together! I get as much done as I can. Head home, walk up a hill in Porirua, if I’m feeling creative I’ll work on a project, or plan my next idea / shoot by making a moodboard on Pinterest! And usually end up reading a good book and going to sleep waaay too late.
SERUM:What are some things you do to keep inspired as a creative professional?
A: Hang out with other artist friends. I give myself space to come up with new ideas – I don’t force it. Listen to music, go to gigs and watch music videos! I also watch films and read a lot. I also do things for my well being, like hangin’ out in nature!