Annette [Netty] Richards
I am an NZ Photographer. My why is about connection. People to people, people to places. Intentionally seeking community.
I'm the product of migration, colonialism/immigrants. I feel blessed to call New Zealand home.
I acknowledge Māori tangata whenua our 'indigenous people of the land' of Aotearoa New Zealand, and feel affinity with māturanga māori.
I don't know much about my ancestors - other than, we came from Irish, English and Welsh origins.
I was born travelling, in Germany - on my parents OE. We lived in a Combi Van, my crib was a washing basket.
My parents separated when I was four and my life became fairly unpredictable. Like many in NZ we were poor and family life was saturated with intergenerational trauma.
Thankfully we also had the gifts of art and music. We lived in paradise. My father would regularly take us on adventures, out of the city, into the wilderness. He taught me to be adventurous, to be social, humane. My mother was and still is my hero, strong and beautiful - wise, intelligent and fierce.
Creativity was with me from the start. As an observer of all things, I was drawn to nature and saw patterns, reflections of other worlds and cultures. I saw things as connected.
Being into nature, and artistic, I had to be careful. Kiwis don't tolerate Tall Poppies', you were expected to be useful, practical.
I also stood squarely in the shadow of generations of real talent... Many, tortured artists. I reckoned it served me better, to lean on my natural athleticism and practicality.
Thankfully it 'takes a village' at intermediate school, my art teacher (secretly) entered my 'Scottish Drummer' painting into the World Children's Art Exhibition, and it won. Sir John Kirwan came to the school to present my award.
At secondary school, I excelled at art, sculptural and abstract particularly - until a serious accident and head injury cut my senior years short. I would have gone on to study art history. Instead, I left school to work on a chicken farm, collecting eggs - till the farm was eventually sold.
At 19 with no qualifications. Ever the dreamer, I applied to art school and got accepted - but was soon talked out of this, encouraged to get a 'real job'.
That real job thankfully, enabled my love of people and places to flourish. My discovery and connection to community - me finding my tribe and eventually, my voice. I also had to learn the hard way, to take better care of myself.
At 43, post burn out, break down and rebuild. I was in Rishikesh, India on the eve of Dussehra. People from all over India were pouring into the city, you could feel the energy building - the atmosphere was electric.
After days of begging, I had finally given in to the local children's pleas to swim with them in the Ganges. It was a scorcher of a day. To my utter shock, when I emerged from the cool, deep, clear water. I was changed - being in the moment had revealed my true self, and she's a wild creature!
On reflection I think in that 'moment of flow' I was able to see as Buddhism says - we are our past, present and future all at once.
Fast forward two years, and here I am with a Shoshin, beginners mind. I’m letting my art emerge, it's a labour of love and I'm excited to see where it leads.
What I know now is that, magic happens, when you give yourself permission to just be (yourself).
I hope something here resonates for you.
Netty's website: visualifephotojournalism.com
Netty's Insta: visualife_netty_richards