We are often discouraged from using the term ‘beautiful’ – what does ‘beautiful’ mean, anyway? However, Swainson’s Studios photograph of Palma Joy Hopkins invites associations with beauty. The photographer has taken such care to light her face, to arrange the background perfectly and to get her to pose ‘just so’. The result is, quite simply, beautiful.
When Palma’s husband, Rex, discovered this photograph in Puke Ariki’s Heritage Collection in 2010, he shared the following story: “This is a photograph of my wife. It was taken in 1955, just prior to our marriage. Her name was Palma Joy Wesley, born in Ballarat, Australia. While living in Melbourne she entered a beauty contest and won it. We were married at St Mary’s Church in New Plymouth. fter farming on Tipoka Road, Rahotu for 20 years, we sold and lived in Paihia, Bay of Islands. Sadly, in 2002 she contracted Alzheimer’s. I go to feed her lunch every day at her rest home in Orewa. She is 77 and I'm 80 years.”
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