Mark Adams

Tattooing Tony Fomison, Sese Lemamea

c. 1980
gelatin silver print
310mm x 465mm

Provenance

Acquired directly from the artist, 2004.

Literature

Adams, Mark, Sean Mallon, Peter Brunt and Nicholas Thomas. Tatau: Samoan Tattoo, New Zealand Art, global culture. Wellington: Te Papa Press, 2010. Plate 16.

Essay

In late 1978, painter Tony Fomison started getting a pe’a.

Earlier that year, his friend Mark Adams had taken a picture of a man with the traditional Samoan th...

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Estimate $2,000 - $3,000
Achieved $2,587.50

Mark Adams

Tattooing Tony Fomison, Sese Lemamea

c. 1980

gelatin silver print

310mm x 465mm

Auction N˚1

Estimate $2,000 - $3,000

Achieved $2,587.50

Tattooing Tony Fomison

by Adam Gifford

In late 1978, painter Tony Fomison started getting a pe’a.

Earlier that year, his friend Mark Adams had taken a picture of a man with the traditional Samoan thigh tattoo for a magazine assignment, opening their eyes to the living practice of tatau occurring in suburban Auckland living rooms.

A chance encounter with one of Fomison’s Freeman’s Bay neighbours led them to tufuga Su’a Sulu’ape Paulo II in Mangere. Adams started documenting his work.

Adams had been taking photographs of Fomison using large format cameras since they met in Christchurch in 1971. He was also developing a practice of long form documentary projects, often exploring cross-cultural situations and manifestations of racism.

As Adams said about his first tatau picture, the magazine shot of Mr Salati Fiu in his Grey Lynn room, “the stranger in the frame was me, not him. He already knew he was in Polynesia. That is what I needed to know.”