"Adams has always been a self-conscious artist, aware of the global archive of anthropological photography and its problematic nature, as well as art history, and the connections between modernism, ethnology and anthropology and of the way Paul Gauguin's romantic view of the Pacific informed Western views of Polynesian peoples."Adam Gifford, New Zealand Herald, April 11, 2010

Mark Adams photographs of Samoan tatau, Māori-Pakeha interactions around Rotorua, historic sites around the South Island and his investigations into New Zealand's post colonial history have been extensively exhibited within New Zealand, as well as in Europe, Australia, South Africa and Brazil's Sao Paulo biennale. 

He uses a conventional realism to investigate aspects of New Zealand and Pacific post-colonial history as a form of critique. He likes the notion of ‘art being that of a witness’. His carefully composed photographs, of great formal elegance, are arresting as they encompass the paradoxes and complexities of the cross-cultural relationships of the histories they record. Over the years he has received several arts council grants and awards including the Getty grant program.

Mark attended Christchurch’s Ilam Art School from 1967 to 1970 majoring in graphic design so he “could do photography” as there was no separate photography major in those days. Following art school, he gained an interest in painting through artists Tony Fomison and Theo Schoon. Marks first exhibition was at Snaps a Photographers Gallery, in Auckland in 1976 and he has since built up an impressive exhibition record.  His books include Cook’s Sites: Revisiting History (1999, with Nicholas Thomas) and Rauru Tene Waitere, Māori carving, colonial history, 2009. Mark was the recipient of one of two Marti Friedlander Photographic Awards made in 2009.

Mark Adams lives in Oxford in Te Wai Pounamu and practices out of Studio La Gonda on Karangahape Road, Auckland with Haruhiko Sameshima.

 Ron Sang, Mark Adams and Marti Friedlander at the 2007
Marti Friedlander Photographic Award, Auckland City Gallery
Image by Savs Photography



Adam GIfford writes on photographer Mark Adams, in the New Zealand Herald on Sunday 11 April, 2010, prior to the launch of Mark's book about Samoan tattooing. 'Tatau" - records a story that has been 30 years in the making
Dan Chappell writes on photographer Mark Adams for Art News prior to the launch of the book "Rauru" and an exhibition of his work at Two Rooms Gallery, Auckland
Born Christchurch, New Zealand
Ilam School of Fine Arts Christchurch
Majored in Graphic Design
First exhibition - Mark Adams, Snaps a Photographers' Gallery, Auckland
Publication - Pakeha-Māori: A Conjuncture. Mark Adams and John Te Manihera Chadwick
Publication – Whenua I maharatia haehae nga takata~Land of Memories scarred by people. Mark Adams and Harry Evison
Exhibition - Sao Paulo Biennale
Publication - Cook's Sites: Revisiting History. Mark Adams and Nicholas Thomas
Publication -Tatau. Pe'a: Photographs by Mark Adams
Grant – Getty grant program
Exhibition – Zelda Cheatle gallery, London
Publication – Rauru. Mark Adams Jim Shuster Lyonel Grant Nicholas Thomas
Marti Friedlander Photographic Award
Publication – Tatau. (forthcoming) Mark Adams. Peter Brunt. Sean Mallon and Nicholas Thomas
Donation Recipient - The Todd Family (AFNZ Award for Patronage)