A moment across time

THIS IS NEW ZEALAND: Anglican Church of New Zealand and Polynesia media officer Lloyd Ashton’s photograph of newly installed Archbishop Don Tamihere in action has something of Renaissance painting in its composition. Picture by Lloyd Ashton

The religiosity, drama and almost geometric composition share something of Renaissance painting in Lloyd Ashton’s photograph. The tableau (right) depicts Archbishop Don Tamihere’s part in a haka during a ceremony at Manutuke Marae on Saturday in which he was installed as head of the Maori Anglican Church.

To the left of the picture, Archbishop Tamihere braces himself in a martial stance and brandishes his crosier like a taiaha. Crouched on the grass (the ceremony was held in a marquee) opposite him, a white-cassocked priest presses his fist to the ground and sticks out his tongue.

Carved in traditional Maori designs and fitted with woven panels, the altar, with a candlestick at the centre of the picture, sits with the traditional props and vestments of the 400-year-old Christian faith.

The sense of symmetry in Ashton’s composition is strengthened by the vectors of taiaha and the rafters. In the negative space that separates the main actors is an echo of the “empty” space that separates the divine from the mundane in Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. In his depiction of Archangel Gabriel’s earthly visit to tell Mary would be the mother of Jesus, the Italian Renaissance artist opted for a gap, a vista, instead of the pillar or wall (or mullion in the stained glass depiction of the Annunciation in Gisborne’s Holy Trinity Church) favoured by other painters.

“You look for an angle to capture the moment,” says former Auckland Star journalist Ashton.

“I find that in common with writing — you’re always looking for a moment. I’m charging around — ‘where’s the best lighting, the best angle?’”

Seconds after Ashton shot the scene the ornamental crook fell off the crosier Archbishop Tamihere put the staff down, picked up the crook and flourished it as a patu (club) as the haka continued.

The religiosity, drama and almost geometric composition share something of Renaissance painting in Lloyd Ashton’s photograph. The tableau (right) depicts Archbishop Don Tamihere’s part in a haka during a ceremony at Manutuke Marae on Saturday in which he was installed as head of the Maori Anglican Church.

To the left of the picture, Archbishop Tamihere braces himself in a martial stance and brandishes his crosier like a taiaha. Crouched on the grass (the ceremony was held in a marquee) opposite him, a white-cassocked priest presses his fist to the ground and sticks out his tongue.

Carved in traditional Maori designs and fitted with woven panels, the altar, with a candlestick at the centre of the picture, sits with the traditional props and vestments of the 400-year-old Christian faith.

The sense of symmetry in Ashton’s composition is strengthened by the vectors of taiaha and the rafters. In the negative space that separates the main actors is an echo of the “empty” space that separates the divine from the mundane in Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation. In his depiction of Archangel Gabriel’s earthly visit to tell Mary would be the mother of Jesus, the Italian Renaissance artist opted for a gap, a vista, instead of the pillar or wall (or mullion in the stained glass depiction of the Annunciation in Gisborne’s Holy Trinity Church) favoured by other painters.

“You look for an angle to capture the moment,” says former Auckland Star journalist Ashton.

“I find that in common with writing — you’re always looking for a moment. I’m charging around — ‘where’s the best lighting, the best angle?’”

Seconds after Ashton shot the scene the ornamental crook fell off the crosier Archbishop Tamihere put the staff down, picked up the crook and flourished it as a patu (club) as the haka continued.

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