NO FREE MAN / by Nigel Swinn

TO NO ONE DENY JUSTICE

In early August, my exhibition called NO FREE MAN opened at The Gus Fisher Gallery on Auckland's Shortland Street. Two of the exhibition's subjects, Teina Pora and Louise Nicholas, made it along to the opening and were honoured by the gathered intelligentsia, and rightly so. But a number of other subjects couldn't make it. They are still serving sentences for a range of serious crimes - some in the high security unit in Christchurch.

I was approached by Erin Griffey and Linda Tyler from the Auckland University to collaborate on this project as a New Zealand perspective on the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta and our modern rule of law.

I visited Christchurch mens' and womens' prisons, met and photographed a number of offenders. I spent a day with rape victim and advocate Louise Nicholas, and a weekend with Teina Pora fresh from his release after 21 years in prison, wrongly accused. A triptych of Teina showing the three distinct emotions of his story - confusion, loss and reprieve - became the centerpiece of the exhibition. For my part I don't think I'll ever forget the way he started his account of his imprisonment..."It was the first 11 years that were the hardest".

It's hard to truly relate their stories. I was interviewed on 3 News and by Eva Radich on the Concert Programme and I doubt I did my subjects any favours. Thankfully, their faces tell a better story than I ever can.