Jon Tonks


Jon Tonks

Cargo Prophecy Coconut King


Cargo is an introduction to the ongoing and collaborative body of work between the photographer Jon Tonks and writer Christopher Lord. It is a taster to four short stories depicting encounters between a remote community in the Pacific Ocean and an outside world that cannot leave them alone.

Cargo Cults’ were first documented by missionaries at the end of the 19th century when much of the Pacific was being converted to Christianity. By the World Wars, a belief had developed amongst islanders in Vanuatu about a man from a distant land who would one day return to reinstate their traditional way of life and give them their rightful wealth: the cargo.

These beliefs are still practised today – the village that says Prince Philip was born of a mountain; another believes the messiah is as an American GI called Jon, with followers that parade the streets with bamboo guns and star-spangled banners; an independence movement that venerates a dissolute French adventurer as its king.

As a strange realisation of the cargo cult, people continue to be drawn to the islands of Vanuatu by these miraculous tales. They leave behind humdrum lives in Europe and the US to play out fantasies of being gods and kings against a backdrop of Vanuatu’s tropical idyll.


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