Poll Tax

Lester Hall


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  • Description
  • Artist Bio
  • The image this work is based on arrived in my living room when I was a child. I was astonished by her at the time and she was the subject of much discussion. It is the most popular art print on the planet and it has won itself a place in the heart of many Kiwis as genuine Kiwiana. The place in Aotearoa of the new Chinese immigrant is often questioned. This work recognizes that Chinese were here since the beginnings of Pakeha expansion and the fact that they were racially profiled for a 100 pound "poll tax" to gain entry. This was married to a limit of one Chinese person to every 200 tons of cargo.. The tax was dropped in 1934. The original image was of a more Thai looking woman who was looking down and away from the viewer. The subject is more Chinese now and looking at the viewer but her head still carries a tilt to acknowledge the suspicion Chinese are still the subject of after many generations because of a new influx of immigrants. The dragon image references often seen tattoo motif of Chinese with daggers through their heads. The Asian lettering means home in Chinese and Japanese, because "they all look alike".

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    *Fine Art Print, Unlimited Edition

  • Lester was born in Wellington, New Zealand in 1956 and has been self supporting through his art for the last twenty years. He has painted and studied New Zealand history and Maori - European - Pacific centric artwork all of that time.

    My printed works are a collection of what the last 20 years of my life has taught me…not to mention what being brought up in White living rooms has given me.
    I could prattle on here about what art and where etc I have done but apart from saying that my Tapa paintings represent a bedding in for me of my status as a Pacific Islander stats about me hold little interest.

    I prefer in this context some specificity as to my nature and my drivers as the race relations commentary I make is often misconstrued as either White supremacist or Maori centric.

    I consider myself an outsider artist, social commentator first and my art is a vehicle for my thoughts and philosophies and aspirations for my country. My art is a conversation with myself and represents moving thought not static dogma. My prints are not numbered and I change them to reflect or emphasise my thoughts whenever I choose to.

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