Book examines the human form

Book examines the human form

Known for his evocative and nostalgic portrayal of everyday life, photographer Derek Henderson’s third book examines the human form

One of New Zealand’s best-known photographers, Derek Henderson, is now based in Australia but returns home next week for the New Zealand launch of Darkness of Noon – a monograph of photographic nude portraits of model Zippora Seven.

The images were taken over the summer of 2010-2011, photographed around New Zealand including Seven’s home and around Henderson’s beloved Waikato River (his 2009 book, Mercy Mercer featured photographs taken on the riverbanks; his mother was born nearby).

The photographer has worked with the model, known as Zippy and once dubbed “New Zealand’s Kate Moss”, many times; including a controversial shoot for RUSSH magazine in 2008 that referenced Moss and Johnny Depp, where Seven appeared topless in a bubble bath.

She bares much more in these new images, with Henderson’s whimsical photos interpreted in illustrative form by fellow New Zealand creative export, fashion illustrator and photographer Kelly Thompson. Thompson, who will also appear at Semi Permanent next week, has featured nudes in her personal work for some time, so the collaboration is a natural one.

Henderson and Thompson will visit Auckland next week, and appear “in conversation” as part of The Department Store’s series of in-store talks with interesting people (see below to win tickets to the event).

We asked Henderson a few questions about his latest project.

What is it about Zippora that warranted focusing an entire book on her?

I’ve worked with Zippora for quite a few years now and we have a great rapport. She’s very comfortable in her own skin. Her behaviour doesn’t seem to change that much from being dressed or undressed, so I could concentrate on the form of her body easily.

Why did you want to work with Kelly?

I’d seen some of Kelly’s work in a show and liked the way she isolated the nudes from the situation the photographs had been taken in. I’m interested in doing that with my photographs, repositioning the subject to change the context of the image, to give an allusion of reality. Also her illustrations are incredibly detailed, like photography, and I like detail that is revealed after the image has been taken.

What do you think her illustrations brought to the project?

Her interpretation of my images was even more simplified through drawing, and form became even stronger.

Why nudes?

The youthful form is fleeting, it doesn’t last for long.

Any funny stories or memorable moments from the shoots?

I do remember one funny moment when two elderly ladies were strolling through a park on a sunny afternoon and saw me with my camera and smiled in a friendly manner. But once they spotted Zippora, who showed no concern in the fact she was naked, their smiles quickly turned to that look of, “you old perv”. I thought that was pretty funny.

The book is a collaboration between three ex-pats. Is there a specific “New Zealand-ness” to the book?

I think the works could have been done anywhere, really, it just so happens that we are all from NZ.

? Darkness of Noon will be on sale at the Simon James Concept Store, with the first 50 buyers receiving a limited edition Stolen Girlfriends Club T-shirt designed for The Department Store.

Another talented local creative pair are celebrating their work in print, with the release of photography book Smoke & Mirrors from stylist and photographer Karen Inderbitzen-Waller and Delphine Avril Planqueel.

The couple, who work closely with Kate Sylvester and Nom*D in photographing and styling campaigns and lookbooks each season, have worked on the project – described as “a journey of closely examined nostalgia and a fascination with difficult beauty” – over several years, with the haunting images taken in New Zealand, Paris and Las Vegas.

Model Zippora Seven, the subject of Derek Henderson’s book, also appears in Smoke and Mirrors, alongside international model Julia Nobis and more. The images sum up a certain kind of New Zealand aesthetic that has permeated throughout the imagery of local fashion: contrasting light and dark, new and old, hard and soft; a special kind of gritty girlishness.

The publication was launched last week at the Saatchi & Saatchi Gallery in Auckland, with photograph prints and sculptural work – including a bed featuring a duvet made up of vintage lingerie that was part of the Nom*D presentation at NZ Fashion Week in 2010 – on display until June 27.

The book will be available more widely through various stockists, including Kate Sylvester stores, later in the year.

? Smoke and Mirrors, until June 27. Saatchi and Saatchi Gallery, Level 3, 123-125 The Strand, Parnell


Viva have five double passes to the “In Conversation With: Derek Henderson and Kelly Thompson” event at The Department Store next Thursday, May 30. To enter the draw, visit Vivagiveaways, click on the VIP Viva box and follow the prompts on screen with the keywords Darkness of Noon. Entries close Monday, May 27. Winners announced May 29.


By Zoe Walker Email Zoe


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