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Wednesday, 24 April 2019 03:46 pm

Ans Westra’s Kiwi photo history goes on display in Cuba St gallery

Nov 30th, 2017 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Along RD1, SH1, Tokoroa Area, 1972, by Ans Westra

After three years of helping digitise more than 100,000 Ans Westra photos, Suite Gallery has opened the exhibition ‘HOME: Sixty Years of Ans Westra in New Zealand’.

The celebration of photographer Ans Westra’s life’s work opened at Suite Gallery yesterday.

Ans Westra moved to New Zealand from Holland in 1957, at 21 years old and began documenting New Zealand life, with a special interest in Maori culture, driving around the country and sleeping in her car.

“For the most part Ans practice has been around documenting New Zealand life, artistically they’re very beautiful,” says David Alsop, owner of Suite Gallery and manager of Ans Westra’s print archive.

“In the documentary photography sphere in New Zealand, she’s number one by miles,” says David Alsop.

Early work by Ans Westra was done for the Ministry of Education, under them she released a controversial work ‘Wash Day at the Pā’, which was withdrawn from schools at the request of the Maori Women’s Welfare League.

Ans Westra’s works should be accessible as many New Zealanders as possible, says Alsop.

Suite Gallery worked with the National Library for three years on the project, digitising over a hundred thousand of Ans Westra’s images of New Zealand.

“I feel a big responsibility in terms of managing it for her and her family and really for the wider public, in terms of giving access to the images to as many people as we can,” says David Alsop.

David Alsop’s Gallery has a permanent Ans Westra museum in its upstairs space, which has expanded over the whole gallery for ‘HOME: Sixty Years of Ans Westra in New Zealand’

“I lived in Europe before getting the gallery and I saw that photography there was so well supported and so well respected and I reflected on New Zealand’s situation and saw that it wasn’t as well supported or respected here,” says David Alsop.

David’s personal favourite image in the show is ‘Along RD1, SH1, Tokoroa Area, 1972,’ which can be seen in the upstairs corridor area.

In 2015, Ans Westra received an honorary doctorate from Massey University for contribution to New Zealand’s visual culture.

‘HOME: Sixty Years of Ans Westra in New Zealand’ is on show until December 15 at Suite Gallery.



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