Fitts & Holderness is pleased to make public a series of documentary photographs, ten screen tests, and three new interviews concerning Holloway Road: The Alleged Visitation by LM. Local interest in the case remains strong and the site is still the subject of many interpretations and stories. LM disappeared without trace in 1999. She was last seen in the Waimipihi Reserve, which is situated at the end of Holloway Road in the Aro Valley. There was also a host of eccentric witnesses, whose bizarre profiles and mysterious back-stories became media fodder, perpetuating the saga even further. The disappearance of LM continues to generate myth, cultural references and dramas.
Down at the end of Holloway Road is a reserve. Their blue car shines red. They meet a woman who prunes the bushes. She tells them that at night a group of teenagers play a game. Part orientation, part hostage, part fantasy. She knows they use the lodge at night, she has seen their torches light up the windows. Carry a nominated hostage through the bush to where the houses start. (Prevent the cargo getting there. It must be carried with no shoes.)
Divide in two. Retreat to opposite sides. Know the terrain. Leave little props on the ground and in the lodge. Swap your clothes to confuse the others. Or wear specialised clothes for a determined time period. The ‘victim’ must be barefoot.
A Japanese tourist lost her toddler son. She called hysterically: Haru kun. Haru kun. Haru kun. Haruto had painted acorns in his pockets when they found him.
To relive. We want it to be bigger than life. But real things happen every day; they have no preference. There is comic humour and everyday clothing, wigs which don’t fit or sit right. There is an orange on her bottom; so she has cellulite? But she is fashion conscious, exchanging her orange felt for a picnic basket hat.
How had she managed to lose him? He was in a carrier on her back. The path which cuts back to Aro Street is a pleasant walk, but don’t run, you may surprise the man who urinates at the edge of the track. Walk briskly and always with others.
On the day there was a man, a man with dogs. There were white cotton gloves, which he had first and they have now. Knowing that one leads to two and three follows. And still the order shifts. I don’t know which comes first, second or third. I don’t know who anyone is or what the comfort is in the grass. One is looking but the other looks away. The hands connect, a gloved caress. The grass is long and dewy.
Fitts & Holderness have been investigating unsolved disappearances since 2001.
From the interview with Gemma Freeman:
Can you please describe what you felt and what you saw as you first walked down Holloway Road and as you entered the reserve?
As I first walked down Holloway Road, there is lots to look at … all the houses and people are quite interesting and it gets even more so as you walk further down. As I got closer, I started to notice things, that … and this sort of carried on throughout the day, things that I thought might have been part of what we’re doing but also might have just been regular Holloway Road occurrences, sort of strange things … There was a woman standing on the side of the street, waving and I sort of got the sense that I should be aware of her … and try to remember what she looked like because maybe I would have to use this information, later on. And so then this man walked through, um, wearing like kind of jogging gear—just shorts and a t-shirt and he had a couple of dogs on leashes. But he was wearing these white gloves which was quite weird. Because they were … I mean I just don’t know why you would be wearing them … They were like white cotton gloves that … I don’t know, you would wear if you didn’t want to leave fingerprints, but he was just walking his dogs in a park. No, I don’t know who he was and I was scared.
Did you know what to expect?
I sort of had a vague sense. Like I knew there was going to be photography, I knew that we were doing sort of test shots. But I didn’t know who was going to take these photos, I didn’t know that I would be taking some of these photographs as well as some other people. The test shots that we were doing … were for, I think, a film about LM.
Do you know who LM is?
It’s a person. A female. I picked up bits and pieces on the day but I certainly don’t have a full picture.
From the interview with Nic Gorman:
What I knew about LM?
… Other than the fact that she had disappeared around there, I knew that LM was dead. And that’s all I know.
And how do you know that?
We were told that.
Can you describe the man from the Council?
The man from the Council, who asked us to leave, came right at the point where we were finishing up, we were trying to revive a tramper who had fallen. The man from the Council had a bright orange vest, outdoorsy shorts and very clean boots and he asked us for a permit. He looked very genuine.
What do you think happened to LM?
Maybe she had something that she wanted to leave behind. Maybe she ran away and moved somewhere else. The two women who were lying in the cutty grass were comforting each other because they were upset about LM’s disappearance.
Did they know LM?
They knew that she had children.
From the interview with Gareth Jenkins:
What is your name?
And what is your occupation?
I work for the City Council. The Wellington City Council.
Can you describe what you saw that day?
I saw a large group milling outside the base of the hut, ‘round the back. There was a man lying on the ground. I think he had a pack on his back. It’s quite a large sort of cut-off area. There’s a hut there with a sort of lawn in the front and a small lawn at the back which a tracks runs through, it leads up to the Brooklyn Hills.
How did the group react when they saw you?
They got a surprise. They didn’t actually know that this was an area that was patrolled by the Council so they got a bit of a shock when I asked them for a permit. I cleared them out pretty quickly.
Originally published in Runway, Issue 15, Lies, Summer 2009-2010, pp 60 – 65.
Emma Fitts has been part of the collaborative duo Fitts & Holderness since 2001. Currently working between the UK and New Zealand they make immersive...
Julia Holderness is one half of Fitts & Holderness, a collaborative duo who work between the UK and New Zealand. Julia is an interdisciplinary artist...