It was almost a year ago exactly we introduced artist Heather Campbell, who was taking part in Waipa District Libraries' Artists at Work series.

Heather had recently returned from New South Wales to live in Te Awamutu and was showcasing her collection called Mug Shots — portraits taken from Australian police photographs of female offenders from the 1920s that she had brought home.

This year she added one important piece to the collection — the first full figure oil painting called Deported, Sydney 1929, which last week won the Gordon Harris People's Choice Award at the Waikato Society of Artists New Zealand Painters and Printmakers Annual Awards.

Her prize of $750 worth of art supplies from Gordon Harris The Art and Graphic Store will allow her to buy brushes and quality paints.


The subject of the work is Marie Louise Aubin, and as with all her subjects, Heather had read the background story to gain an insight into life and hardships at the time. She says that allows her to imagine the clothing, colours, skin tones, etc, to create a portrait.

Marie was in Sydney for less than a year when she was arrested and charged with 20 counts of being idle and disorderly and obscene behaviour — code for prostitution.

Heather Campbell, right, at last year's event. Photo / File
Heather Campbell, right, at last year's event. Photo / File

Heather says it was customary for police to give a dictation test on the street and anyone with an English language problem was identified as an illegal immigrant.

Marie, however, had her wits about her and asked for a lawyer, but this was refused and she was deported, although when, and where to, was not recorded.

Heather says the stories of violence against women, and unjust treatment and imprisonment, are personal to her.

"There's a lot of me in this work."

The award works are accompanied by a 50 word narrative, which Heather used to tell some of Marie's story.

She says her work was the only traditional portrait in the show, but obviously the artwork and narrative spoke to the public.


Heather says there is a 'deep pool' of resources for Mug Shots, but she is keen to also work with live models and she undertakes commissions.