As one of the original colourists for Whites Aviation in the 1950’s, Grace Rawson reminisces and revives the forgotten art of hand-tinted photography for the first time in over fifty years.

The hand-tinted photographic landscapes of Whites Aviation have become celebrated icons of New Zealand’s mid-century culture. But few still know that each photograph was individually coloured by hand. 83-year-old Grace Rawson provides a new perspective on the work when she picks up the cotton wool one more time to showcase the wonderful aesthetic of a lost art. Social expectations of photography and its process have radically changed, but nothing can change the authenticity and aesthetic of a hand-made craft.


Co-Director Greg Wood

Greg Wood directs TV commercials and associated content through Exit in Australia and NZ ( Previously he worked as an art director in advertising and ‘new media’. He began his career working in museums as a designer in both graphics and exhibition design. Outside of commercial work, he has exhibited in numerous galleries in the fields of sound and installation art. He has also extensively performed sound and film-related works at various festivals and events.

Recent credits:
Director: Helmut Makes a Quilt (35mm/2013) funded by the NZFC’s premiere short film funding scheme.

Co-Director Peter Alsop

Peter is a night-time author and creative project guy, building on his keen interest in New Zealand art and, more specifically, early tourism publicity, hand coloured photos and mid-century landscape painting. He has co-directed documentary Graphic Wonderland  and published three landmark publications: and, most recently, a book on Marcus King, a dark horse of New Zealand art. He also has other publications under development. By day, Peter is a senior executive who has worked across the public and private sectors and, as a result of that commercial experience, knows how to get things done and work collaboratively for best results.


The thing that first attracted me to the Loading Docs initiative was the fit between idea and format. For me, a three-minute duration is a wonderful opportunity to really hone in on your subject matter – there’s no time for big reveals or back-stories. The focus is intense – almost like an experimental film. And our idea was very focused in nature too, almost like a snippet of a much larger story – in this case Whites Aviation.

Having become fascinated with the unique aqua-blue-green palette of Whites hand-tinted photographs, I’d been toying with the idea of recreating one of their landscapes for some time. I wondered whether it was possible to achieve similar results with a contemporary landscape as the subject. But when we discovered that Whites original master colourist, Grace, was still living in Auckland and still creatively prolific, even at 83, we knew we had to somehow pay homage to what she had achieved back in the fifties. So in a sense, the film wrote itself.

The Colourist pays tribute to a woman whose contribution to both New Zealand’s art and its history is largely unknown. It’s also a celebration of a meticulous hand-applied craft, rendered virtually obsolete in a world obsessed by the immediacy of the digital image.

Mid-century aesthetic is very much in vogue and Whites Aviation pictures have recently become very collectable making this film very timely.