Southland · 25 Aug 2020

Stewart Island Artist Captures Lockdown Behind The Lens

Aimee Wilson

Aimee Wilson


Stewart Island photographer/artist Laire Puriks isolation project has almost hit the $10,000 mark, only a week after it started Pledgeme campaign.

Lairka Photography needs $12,000 to publish the soon-to-be historic book Copeisolation– which features life for many of the islanders during lockdown.

As well as signed books and a trip to the Ulva island, Laire is also offering homemade pancakes as part of her Pledgeme 

By using history to create history, she has made something for the locals to remember in years to come.

But with all the recent media attention including a video on the BBC, the artist said she initially was feeling overwhelmed by it all.

Laire spent a months individually capturing and editing the personal lives of 168 people and their pets – all either out on boats, on decks, in glasshouses or looking out their windows.

The whole project changed my life as an artist and photographer, and affected me on so many levels,she said.

She describes her work as a bubbleto house all the other bubbles on the island.

A work of photography art, humour.  To draw us all closer together within our isolation.

Stewart Island photographer/artist Laire Purik’s isolation project

Laire said the community embraced the project after seeing a few of her photos on her facebook page, and then the phone started ringing with people asking when could she come?

People were saying, well be waiting for you,but I called them first because of the distancing and the rules.

She learnt a lot about her community (where she had lived for the past four years), and felt more connected to them after the project.

Stewart Island photographer/artist Laire Purik’s isolation project

It was lockdown but it opened doors for me.

Laire is looking forward to holding a book launch once Copeisolationis printed, with the Pledgeme fundraising running for another month.