With our new series of COMO Collaborations, our brief to artists and writers is simple: be inspired. For photographer Derek Henderson, it was a rare flower that blooms just once a year in Fiji.
Derek Henderson is a New Zealand-born, Sydney-based photographer whose work in fashion and travel is widely published, from Arena Homme +, to Holiday, i-D, T: The New York Times, and Vogue.
Image credit: Richard Brimer
He has also created major independent bodies of work that explore and narrate the rich natural landscapes and communities of Australia and New Zealand. His projects — The Terrible Boredom of Paradise and Mercy Mercer — explore his New Zealand homeland, prompted by memories of his childhood. Both projects have been exhibited internationally and are published in book form.
This is COMO Laucala Island, through his own eyes.
It's a place where nature is being protected on an extraordinary scale. It takes about three hours to bike around the island, taking in the mangroves, beaches, and 'Bird Island' in a sheltered channel. The interior feels like a Jurassic Park: thick forest, wild orchids. No tree is allowed to be felled without the permission of the owner. There are creatures everywhere: ruby-red land crabs, butterflies, frogs and fruit bats, and some of the best diving in the world.
For this new COMO Collaboration, I took as my inspiration the story of a flower that blooms once a year on the neighbouring island of Taveuni, and which you can smell at dusk in a single spot near the mangroves on Laucala. It's weird — given the blooming flower is many miles away across the water. The story is linked to a kind of princess-in-the-tower Pacific fairytale, about smell and memory.