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“My first sentimental object is this photo of my sister and I. She was eight or nine, and I was seven. In this photo I’m the shorter one, but now I’m taller than her. I’m living with my sister, so I don’t have all of my things with me, which made it hard to choose my sentimental object. My sister suggested I show some of my art, so I started looking through it all and this photo literally fell out and onto the floor. We both just stared at it. I was like: ‘That’s my sentimental object’.

My sister is literally the best person in the world. She’s always been there for me. I love her and I’ll cherish her forever. My parents didn’t really have photos of themselves growing up, so when we came to New Zealand, they would always make us dress up and take photos of us. I love taking photos now, because it’s my dad’s thing. He loves having cameras and he loves taking photos. I have a really bad memory, so it’s good to be able to look at photographs and remember exactly what was happening in that moment.

My second sentimental object is this self-portrait that was done in my last year of art class in high school, when I was 17. This is the painting I am most proud of. It means so much to me. Painting this was the first time I really saw myself for who I am. In the top left of the picture you can see a painting of myself as a little girl, representing the old me. I painted myself first, then I added the fantail because they’re really common in Upper Hutt, which is where I grew up.”

What does sentimentality mean to you?
“It’s really nice to look back on things that have sentimental value because life changes so much. I like that you can look back and maybe see how bad things were, and then realise how much better you’re doing now, in the present. Like when you realise that you got through a time you thought you weren’t going to get through. It’s nice to see where you were and where you are now.” - Ayuen, Te Whanganui-a-tara/Wellington. Find Ayuen: @pedrosanchezstanaccount. (Interview: Chloe Mason)

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