Creative Projects

We are following ever-widening archival traces of writer and artist Emily Cumming Harris whose occluded story is inextricable from that of the Taranaki settlement to which her parents brought her as a four year old on the first emigrant ship to fetch up on Te Atiawa land at Moturoa in 1841. Emily Harris wrote poems we can no longer see and prose that we can. Her mother Sarah wrote letters home that stitch tragedy into the fabric of emigrant life. Her father walked between hope and despair of a life that might amount to more than farming or surveying. Her sister Frances climbed to the summit of Mount Taranaki but could not break free of economic and social restraints that limited her artistic ambition. These and other voices in a debris field we may search out, transcribe and bring to light again in the usual way. But to really hear them, these voices, in their fractured (crossed out, overwritten, torn-edged) engagement with time and place: this is what we want to do again and again, listening for the momentary impacts of connection and the underslides of disjunct. How else will we know what to do with traces of time folding back on places we can never afford to forget?