The Forgotten White Man in Historic Olympic Photo

The white man in that photo

Today marks the 9th anniversary of Peter Norman’s passing. We want to commemorate him by publishing this text written by Italian writer Riccardo Gazzaniga, who allowed us to share the story of the Australian sprinter on Griot.

Original text by Italian writer Riccardo Gazzaniga


Translation by Alexa Combs Dieffenbach

Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, and it certainly deceived me for a long time.

I always saw the photo as a powerful image of two barefoot black men, with their heads bowed, their black-gloved fists in the air while the US National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” played. It was a strong symbolic gesture – taking a stand for African American civil rights in a year of tragedies that included the death of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy.

It’s a historic photo of two men of color. For this reason I never really paid attention to the other man, white, like me, motionless on the second step of the medal podium. I considered him a random presence, an extra in Carlos and Smith’s moment, or a kind of intruder. Actually, I even thought that that guy – who seemed to be just a simpering Englishman – represented, in his icy immobility, the will to resist the change that Smith and Carlos were invoking in their silent protest. But I was wrong.

Thanks to an old article by Gianni Mura, today I discovered the truth: that white man in the photo is, perhaps, the biggest hero of that night in 1968. His name was Peter Norman, he was an Australian who arrived in the 200 meters finals after having ran an amazing 20.22 in the semi finals. Only the two Americans, Tommie “The Jet” Smith and John Carlos had done better: 20.14 and 20.12, respectively.

It seemed as if the victory would be decided between the two Americans. Norman was an unknown sprinter, who seemed to just be having a good couple of heats. John Carlos, years later, said that he was asked what happened to the small white guy – standing at 5’6”tall, and running as fast as him and Smith, both taller than 6’2.”

The time for the finals arrives, and the outsider Peter Norman runs the race of a lifetime, improving on his time yet again. He finishes the race at 20.06, his best performance ever, an Australian record that still stands today, 47 years later.

But that record wasn’t enough, because Tommie Smith was really “The Jet,” and he responded to Norman’s Australian record with a world record. In short, it was a great race.

Yet that race will never be as memorable as what followed at the awards ceremony.

It didn’t take long after the race to realize that something big, unprecedented, was about to take place on the medal podium. Smith and Carlos decided they wanted to show the entire world what their fight for human rights looked like, and word spread among the athletes.

Norman was a white man from Australia, a country that had strict apartheid laws, almost as strict as South Africa. There was tension and protests in the streets of Australia following heavy restrictions on non-white immigration and discriminatory laws against aboriginal people, some of which consisted of forced adoptions of native children to white families.

The two Americans had asked Norman if he believed in human rights. Norman said he did. They asked him if he believed in God, and he, who had been in the Salvation Army, said he believed strongly in God. “We knew that what we were going to do was far greater than any athletic feat, and he said “I’ll stand with you” – remembers John Carlos – “I expected to see fear in Norman’s eyes, but instead we saw love.”

Smith and Carlos had decided to get up on the stadium wearing the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, a movement of athletes in support of the battle for equality.
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They would receive their medals barefoot, representing the poverty facing people of color. They would wear the famous black gloves, a symbol of the Black Panthers’ cause. But before going up on the podium they realized they only had one pair of black gloves. “Take one each”, Norman suggested. Smith and Carlos took his advice.

But then Norman did something else. “I believe in what you believe. Do you have another one of those for me”? he asked, pointing to the Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the others’ chests. “That way I can show my support for your cause.” Smith admitted to being astonished, ruminating: “Who is this white Australian guy? He won his silver medal, can’t he just take it and that be enough!”.

Smith responded that he didn’t, also because he would not be denied his badge. There happened to be a white American rower with them, Paul Hoffman, an activist with the Olympic Project for Human Rights. After hearing everything he thought “if a white Australian is going to ask me for an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge, then by God he would have one!” Hoffman didn’t hesitate: “I gave him the only one I had: mine”.

The three went out on the field and got up on the podium: the rest is history, preserved in the power of the photo. “I couldn’t see what was happening,” Norman recounts, “[but] I had known they had gone through with their plans when a voice in the crowd sang the American anthem but then faded to nothing. The stadium went quiet.”

The head of the American delegation vowed that these athletes would pay the price their entire lives for that gesture, a gesture he thought had nothing to do with the sport. Smith and Carlos were immediately suspended from the American Olympic team and expelled from the Olympic Village, while the rower Hoffman was accused of conspiracy.

Once home the two fastest men in the world faced heavy repercussions and death threats.

But time, in the end, proved that they had been right and they became champions in the fight for human rights. With their image restored they collaborated with the American team of Athletics, and a statue of them was erected at the San Jose State University. Peter Norman is absent from this statue. His absence from the podium step seems an epitaph of a hero that no one ever noticed. A forgotten athlete, deleted from history, even in Australia, his own country.
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Four years later at the 1972 Summer Olympics that took place in Munich, Germany, Norman wasn’t part of the Australian sprinters team, despite having run qualifying times for the 200 meters thirteen times and the 100 meters five times.

Norman left competitive athletics behind after this disappointment, continuing to run at the amatuer level.

Back in the change-resisting, whitewashed Australia he was treated like an outsider, his family outcast, and work impossible to find. For a time he worked as a gym teacher, continuing to struggle against inequalities as a trade unionist and occasionally working in a butcher shop. An injury caused Norman to contract gangrene which led to issues with depression and alcoholism.

As John Carlos said, “If we were getting beat up, Peter was facing an entire country and suffering alone.” For years Norman had only one chance to save himself: he was invited to condemn his co-athletes, John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s gesture in exchange for a pardon from the system that ostracized him.

A pardon that would have allowed him to find a stable job through the Australian Olympic Committee and be part of the organization of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Norman never gave in and never condemned the choice of the two Americans.

He was the greatest Australian sprinter in history and the holder of the 200 meter record, yet he wasn’t even invited to the Olympics in Sydney. It was the American Olympic Committee, that once they learned of this news asked him to join their group and invited him to Olympic champion Michael Johnson’s birthday party, for whom Peter Norman was a role model and a hero.

Norman died suddenly from a heart attack in 2006, without his country ever having apologized for their treatment of him. At his funeral Tommie Smith and John Carlos, Norman’s friends since that moment in 1968, were his pallbearers, sending him off as a hero.
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“Peter was a lone soldier. He consciously chose to be a sacrificial lamb in the name of human rights. There’s no one more than him that Australia should honor, recognize and appreciate” John Carlos said.

“He paid the price with his choice,” explained Tommie Smith, “It wasn’t just a simple gesture to help us, it was HIS fight. He was a white man, a white Australian man among two men of color, standing up in the moment of victory, all in the name of the same thing”.

Only in 2012 did the Australian Parliament approve a motion to formally apologize to Peter Norman and rewrite him into history with this statement:

This House “recognises the extraordinary athletic achievements of the late Peter Norman, who won the silver medal in the 200 meters sprint running event at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, in a time of 20.06 seconds, which still stands as the Australian record”.

“Acknowledges the bravery of Peter Norman in donning an Olympic Project for Human Rights badge on the podium, in solidarity with African-American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos, who gave the ‘black power’ salute”.

“Apologises to Peter Norman for the wrong done by Australia in failing to send him to the 1972 Munich Olympics, despite repeatedly qualifying; and belatedly recognises the powerful role that Peter Norman played in furthering racial equality”.

However, perhaps, the words that remind us best of Peter Norman are simply his own words when describing the reasons for his gesture, in the documentary film “Salute,” written, directed and produced by his nephew Matt.

“I couldn’t see why a black man couldn’t drink the same water from a water fountain, take the same bus or go to the same school as a white man.

There was a social injustice that I couldn’t do anything about from where I was, but I certainly hated it.

It has been said that sharing my silver medal with that incident on the victory dais detracted from my performance.

On the contrary.

I have to confess, I was rather proud to be part of it.”
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When even today it seems the fight for human rights and equality is never-ending, and innocent lives are being taken, we have to remember the people that have already made self-sacrifices, like Peter Norman, and try to emulate their example. Equality and justice is not a single community’s fight, it’s everyone’s.

So this October, when I’ll be in San Jose, I am going to visit the Olympic Black Power statue on the San Jose State University campus, and that empty podium step will remind me of a forgotten, but truly courageous hero, Peter Norman.

 

Source: The white man in that photo

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Sustainable Business: The LivingInPeace Project

A wonderfully GOOD New Zealand Story

Karamea. A community of 650 people in rural New Zealand. A small community with a big vision.

Imagine if every traveller and every business took responsibility for their carbon footprint. This is the vision of Paul Murray, founder of the Living In Peace Project in Karamea.

Paul was inspired by Douglas Tompkins, the founder of North Face and Esprit clothing businesses, who, on the sale of his companies for $120 million, purchased 900,000 ha of virgin forest in Chile to “preserve it from development.” Paul explains:

I wasn’t anywhere near as cashed up as Mr Tompkins, but loved the essence of what he was doing and his motivation for doing it. I had the opportunity to purchase a much smaller piece of forest and did so.

In 2001, Paul purchased and committed to maintaining a 80-acre (31 ha) forest bordering on the Kahurangi National Park. The Living in Peace Project is funded through his businesses including Rongo Backpackers & Gallery and Karamea Farm Baches. He wanted to capture carbon to mitigate the environmental impact of his businesses.

My accountant refers to the forest as a “non-performing asset,” but I don’t see it that way, it definitely performs a function and that is to enable us to take full environmental responsibility for the carbon cost of our business and that is important to me.

I want to be able to raise my hand and say that “I am an environmentally responsible business person” and that means I want to have a successful business, without damaging the environment in the process. I want to take full responsibility for every aspect of my business and always seek to minimise the environmental impact of my business activities.

Paul actively encourages people from all over the world to visit Karamea, which is possibly the most remote town on mainland New Zealand, which is also a country a long way from any other. There is a carbon cost for people to visit his business and he meets that by maintaining the forest, which absorbs CO2 and turns it into wood. There are also some incredible rata trees on the property that he estimates are over 1,200 years old.

To stand in the forest and be present is very inspiring for me. The forest provides everything it needs to grow and thrive and recycles all waste material in a way that sustains it. It requires no inputs other than freely available resources of water, sunshine and soil. It’s a perfect system and I believe the path to sustainable business is to strive to be like the forest…biomimicry.

Paul acknowledges that while tourism businesses have a responsibility to offset the impact of their businesses, travellers also need to do their part to minimise and offset their carbon footprint. He believes that although many people are becoming more aware about the carbon cost of their travel, others have not really considered it.

We take tour groups to the forest, go check out the big trees and discuss why we maintain the forest. The people who are already aware of the issue are very impressed with our efforts to address the carbon cost of travel on their behalf. Others, who are perhaps comprehending the information for the first time, go away thinking about the subject and perhaps in a small way, we are influencing their thinking on the subject of sustainable travel.

We asked Paul to share some Dos and Don’ts for GOOD travellers considering a trip to New Zealand. Here they are.

Do:

  • Stay longer and slow down…It’s impossible to see and do everything, so take the time to have a quality experience everywhere you go. Seek quality experiences over quantity of experiences.
  • Be a traveller instead of a tourist. Take the time to experience different cultures, fashions, foods, architectural and art styles, languages, traditions etc
  • Eat locally, be a locavore as it significantly reduces the carbon cost of your travel and supports local producers and businesses who are striving to be efficient and environmentally responsible.
  • Car pool – the more people in a car the better and it is a cheaper and more efficient way to travel.
  • Seek out of the way places and explore lesser travelled roads…
  • Take time to get involved everywhere you go…Volunteer, socialise, meet people and have good conversations…learn and grow.
  • Share what you have with others.
  • Take LOTS of photos.

Don’t:

  • Try and see an entire country in two weeks.
  • Be a tourist! Tourism is an expensive (financially and environmentally) form of entertainment without inherent value. Slow down, observe and get involved in the places you visit.

See More:

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Karamea Community Hui Draws BIG Crowd

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Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

Seventy-five positive people from all walks of Karamea and Little Wanganui life spent a sunny Saturday afternoon at the Last Resort on August 12 learning more about the Community-Led Development Programme (CLDP) and our partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

Many others registered apologies, calving prevented many farmers from being able to attend and submissions were received from former Karamean Owen Jennings, who now resides in Auckland and the Guppy Family from somewhere in S.E. Asia.

Karamea has been granted a 5-year partnership with the DIA through its CLDP. The department will offer advice as well as financial, logistical and professional support for community projects in our region. There are five communities across New Zealand to have this chance to improve their lot and Karamea is currently the only one on the South Island to have been selected.

Buller Community Coordinator Pete Howard from Buller REAP welcomed people to the hui and introduced Megan Courtney from Inspiring Communities Nelson, who got the momentum flowing, kept time and encouraged everyone to engage and participate. Dyan Hansen from the DIA Greymouth office also attended to explain the CLDP and her role in liaising between the DIA and the Karamea community.

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Clive Hellyar from Karamea Community Incorporated (KCI) spoke about the rapidly changing world in which we live and the need to factor into plans ways to mitigate the likely effects of climate change and to be flexible, innovative and adaptive as we charter a course into the future. He then spoke about the CLDP and outlined the possibilities for the community as well as explaining the role of KCI in the process.

The KCI committee successfully applied for the partnership agreement and is the community group recognised by the DIA to facilitate the partnership, communicating with the government department, receiving and distributing funds, meeting all compliance requirements and enabling the programme to flourish.

Presentations from successful community organisations followed and speakers from the Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project (Barry Chalmers), Little Wanganui Hall and Beach Day (Kirsty Barkman), Karamea Winter School (Raramai Adcock and Kathy Ramsay) and the Oparara Wilderness Trail Run (Lynda Pope), celebrated their achievements by sharing stories about their respective organisations to provide attendees with good examples of community-led projects and to inspire our imaginations on what is possible if we work together as a community.

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After the formalities were completed and the programme explained, Ms Courtney asked the gathering to acknowledge that they supported the concept and considered it beneficial to our community. The response was enthusiastic and unanimous. People then formed groups and worked together to brainstorm ideas and discuss how they might best take advantage of the opportunity before them.

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Participants were asked to fill out a short questionnaire and share their ideas for a better community…The idea cards were then stuck to the wall under the headings of; Infrastructure, Environment, Economy & Income, Education & Learning and Social, Cultural & Community. Participants were each given three coloured stickers, asked to read the ideas and then to stick a dot on the ideas they liked best. Table groups then discussed the ideas that received the most support and each group then gave a brief verbal report back to the hui about the idea they had debated.

The ideas included:

  • The establishment of commercial kitchen to enable food processing, compliance with regulations and the development of a “Karamea” brand.
  • The Clean Streams Karamea project for riparian plantings along watercourses to improve stock management, increase production and return to farms and to reduce nutrient runoff into our streams and rivers and estuaries and sea.
  • Permitting mountain biking on the Oparara Valley Track and the construction of a “Pump Track” for local and visiting cyclists.
  • The erection of a large “Hokioi” eagle on the Karamea bridge to welcome visitors to the region
  • Supporting the proposed road linking Little Wanganui and Tapawera.

The idea cards will be displayed in the front window of the proposed Karamea Café building opposite the Karamea 4 Square supermarket along with other information about the hui and about the CLDP and our community association with the DIA.

In recent years, our community has been threatened with the closure of our police station and by Cyclone Ita…We banded together and rose up to fight for the survival or our police presence and to help each other tidy up after the storm. These are good examples of reactive community cooperation.

The achievements of the Oparara Valley Trust and the recent Karamea Autumn Harvest Festival, which was organised by Sacha Healey, Brendan O’Dwyer and a team of community volunteers, provide great examples or the power of proactive community cooperation. Through the CLDP and with the support of the DIA, our community has the chance to proactively work together to improve our lot and make life in our special place even more wonderful.

KCI Chair Peter Moynihan thanked everyone for attending and contributing to the future of Karamea. In closing, he summarised the day and the community well and laid us down a gauntlet challenge in his closing words by saying, “The Karamea community is great at working together to overcome adversity…Our energy, empathy and spirit of cooperation come to the fore when things go very wrong…Well, here is something that has gone very right, and it is a real opportunity for our community to shine.”

The hui was funded by Buller REAP, Chef Vinnie Dunford catered for the event with a tasty array of fine cuisine and Shelley Neame and Kylie Martin looked after kids at the Karamea Kindergarten to enable parents to attend the meeting.

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(Paul Murray is the current secretary of KCI)

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Posted in Community, Community-Led Development, Economics, Environment, Kahurangi National Park, Karamea, Karamea Estuary Enhancement Project, Mountain Biking, MTB, Nature, New Zealand, Oparara, Oparara Basin, Oparara Valley Track, Paul Murray, Permaculture, Politics, Social Commentary, Social Enterprise, Social Equity, Sustainability, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Singapore Airlines Article on Karamea/Nelson/Collingwood

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GOAL for Karamea Community!!

Knock, Knock…Who’s there?

Opportunity…

…Opportunity Who?

Opportunity to make our region FABULOUS!

 

Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

When opportunity knocks, you open the door right? Well, the Karamea community has a golden opportunity ringing its doorbell and it’s time to open all entrances and welcome it in for a cuppa, some scones and a chat.

ggcircle800pxKaramea has been granted a partnership with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) for five years through its Community-Led Development Programme (CLDP), which will offer financial, logistical and professional support for community projects. There are five communities across New Zealand to have this chance to improve their lot and Karamea is the only community on the South Island to have been selected.
Karamea Community Incorporated (KCI) applied to DIA for the CLDP alliance and the application was successful, largely due to the savvy and acumen of KCI coordinator Clive Hellyar who drew up the application with support from committee members.

What does all this mean? I hear you ask…Well, in the first year, there is $1 million available for distribution to the five communities that have been selected for the programme. Yes…that is $1,000,000 large! (…and that’s just in the first year of a five-year programme).

In order to access this money, the Karamea Community (and the Little Wanganui Community) need to come up with serious plans on how we might improve our lot, draw up proposals, apply for funding, get the money and then get busy at a practical level to turn our dreams into reality and we have the support of the Central Government through the DIA’s CLDP to back it up financially and make it real.

This is an opportunity that needs to be embraced and nurtured so that we can improve local employment opportunities, strengthen our regional economy, make our region more attractive for local people and visitors, enhance aesthetics, increase local recreational activities, upgrade existing infrastructure and generally give the place a good spruce up.

The association with the DIA will dramatically improve the chance of success for funding applications and the DIA will support grants with “partnership funding” by adding to successful funding applications to get projects across the line financially.

IC KCI is a group of local people passionate about improving our community for the people living here. We need your help, Buller REAP in conjunction with KCI have arranged for a community forum called “Love (Y)Our Place.” Megan Courtney, a facilitator from “Inspiring Communities” is coming to Karamea on August 12, 2017, to enable all the members of our community to have a voice and share their thoughts on how we might take full advantage of the opportunity the CLDP offers. We need your help by coming to the forum and contributing to the future of our region by sharing your thoughts and ideas.

The forum is a chance to have your voice heard and to shape the future of our region. Your opinions and thoughts are important and this is an opportunity for you to be heard and for your ideas to be put into action. This one Saturday afternoon will be time well spent, as you will have a chance to shape the future of our region with your input to the forum.

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So come along on Saturday, August 12, 2017, to the Last Resort Café from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and express yourself with other members of the Karamea and Little Wanganui communities and let’s work together to make this great place even better for all concerned.

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Posted in Art, Bureaucracy, Business, DIY, Economics, Environmentally Responsible Business, Karamea, Money, New Zealand, Paul Murray, Politics, Social Commentary, Social Enterprise, Social Equity, South Island, Sustainability, Uncategorized, West Coast | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Burning Woman Throws Baby

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Off the Top of My Head

By Paul Murray

When a large macrocarpa tree blew down in front of his house in a storm, Granity artist and bon vivant Peter Whitaker saw it as a sign, “It was like a message from God,” he said with a wry grin.

God’s message was apparently to take the windfall and use it to disturb people. Good installation artworks often do, their message is strong and direct, they evoke emotion and stimulate contemplation. Pete Whitaker’s “Burning Woman Throws Baby” is such a bit of work.

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The hideous and disconcerting sculpture is on display at Rongo in Karamea for six weeks and we invite you to come and take a look, have a think and try and determine just what the message Mr Whitaker is attempting to convey might be. It’s also a great selfie opportunity…because everyone looks good in front of this monstrosity.

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Arthur’s Pass hostel owner and raconteur Bob Vaile (left) is never one to pass up a good selfie opportunity. He stayed at Rongo on his way to ride the Heaphy Track on his new full-suspension fatty and couldn’t resist a quickie with the unfortunate woman.

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On seeing the sculpture for the first time, Rongo Manager Tristan Lockerbie said, “My God…That is a total waste of a good piece of firewood.” “It’s badly carved, poorly executed and completely disgusting…I LOVE it!”

Karamea Village Hotel Chef and local Barista Vinnie Dunford, couldn’t resist the opportunity to be photographed with the grim installation…”This is cheesier than double brie, mozzarella pizza with a cheddar infused crust….Mmmmmm CHEESE….,” He mused.

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Chef and Barista Vinnie Dunford gets up close and personal with the flaming lady.

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Granity Artist Peter Whitaker with his creation “Burning Woman Throws Baby.”

“It was motivated by despair really,” Whitaker said. “Despair with the state of the world, politics, the threat of global warming…It’s a message to say “Hey, things are really wrong here”…We need to think about saving the next generation.”

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Whitaker carved the work for the annual Buller Art Exhibition in the clocktower in Westport on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. The work didn’t elicit much feedback, but did result in one offer to purchase. “Someone wanted to buy it,” said Whitaker. “But I didn’t sell it as I was uncertain of the person’s intentions for the piece,” he added.

Diva Murray, daughter of Rongo owners Paul and Sanae Murray, was confused by the sculpture…”Why is the lady gorilla throwing a pig Daddy?” she asked.

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Diva Murray with Mrs Kong and Piglet

The anatomically incorrect shaping of the “hot” lady suggests it’s been quite a while since Whitaker has actually seen a woman without clothing and when pressed on the subject he said, “That may be true, but I have a lot of good memories.” Well memories are one thing, but mammaries are quite another and the Burning Lady’s misshapen chest suggests the unfamiliarity of the sculptor with the real thing…or things.

After the exhibition closed, mother and baby went on display in Westport at the Art Hotel in Brougham Street and they are now doing their time at Rongo in Karamea. Whitaker plans to take the burning woman and her unfortunate child down the West Coast and display them at other venues to spread the message and share the scare.

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“Burning Woman Throws Baby” is on display at Rongo until Labour Day, so come and stay in Sunny Karamea and enjoy the stark contrast between the beauty and peace of Karamea life and the dystopian horror depicted in Whitaker’s artistic effort.

Take a selfie with the unfortunate lady as she desperately attempts to save her toasting toddler by tossing him out of the furnace of the present and into the frying pan of the future…and help spread the message that while things might not be so good now, there is hope for the age to come.

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Interesting Images

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