At Ngemah, Sarawak, longhouse children stare in amazement Hedda Morrison’s 1962 book Life In A Longhouse – photographed at Ngemah over fifty years before.
‘The Foundation is to be congratulated for its vision and publications, making a most valuable contribution to the ethnography and history of the region. As Asia experiences the tsunami of globalization, the retrieval of photos from archives difficult for the general public to access is extremely important. The Foundation’s work is a project for all time, and a race against time.’
Dr Vinson H. Sutlive, Jr, Professor Emeritus, The College of William and Mary in Virginia
Helping to build bridges between the generations is central to the Foundation’s objectives. This is inherent in our books’ content. And for some projects we intend to take this further, where images portray specific communities. Hedda Morrison’s photos taken in Sarawak, especially at Ngemah, a longhouse on the Rejang River, provide an example. In the late 1940s and 1950s, when Sarawak remained under British administration, it was evident that the old ways could not continue much longer. Modernization soon would bring irrevocable change. It was in this context that Morrison, with her abiding interest in the lives of ordinary people, during many visits photographed Ngemah’s people. There is great potential today, through collaborating with the Ngemah community, and using oral history and contemporary photos, to create parallel stories – to reveal the profound changes, for both good and not so good, since Hedda Morrison’s time.
At its deepest level, the Foundation’s educational and cultural purpose is to provide an historical photo-inspired bridge between generations, to foster greater awareness of how the past has created the present.
The Foundation aims to be a regional publisher of engaging and highly researched photo histories. Given this, and its international sales and readership, the Foundation originates its books in English. However if, as in Hong Kong, there is a dominant local language, when possible we do translations, as for the Chinese editions of Hong Kong As It Was and Hong Kong Nature Landscapes. Or, as with Lee Fook Chee’s Hong Kong, sometimes the original publication is bilingual.
For the project mentioned above, about Ngemah, Sarawak, the book will be in English and in the local Ngemah language, Iban.