Born in Whanganui, Noble attended high school at the Roman Catholic girls' college, Erskine College, in Island Bay, Wellington, and Wanganui Girls' College. She completed a MFA (Honours - 1st class) at the Elam School of Fine Arts in 1983.
Noble's approach to her work involves 'prolonged observation and attentive watching'.:83 She is known for working in photographic series. Her first major exhibition, The Wanganui, opened at the Sarjeant Gallery in 1982 and toured to the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland, Hamilton and Te Manawa in Palmerston North. Writer Sheridan Keith described these works as 'a series of images of immense spirituality, serenity and intensity of feeling'.
In the presence of angels – photographs of the contemplative life (1988-1990) is a series of photographs documenting life inside a London convent. Noble lived with the Benedictine nuns in the silent order for an extended period.
In My Father’s Garden is a series of photographs that follow the artist’s father’s death, while the Hidden Lives series capture the lives of elderly intellectually disabled people and their carers.
The series Ruby’s Room (1998-2007) features close-up images of the photographer’s daughter’s mouth. The artist says that many of the best childhood moments go unrecorded, and that many of these ‘relate to pleasures and play around the mouth, moments of defiance and triumph, like managing to blow a really good bubble with bubble gum ... I wanted to magnify the colour, the spontaneity, the life, the fun and play, and all the things that I enjoyed as a mother.’ In 2010 the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa acquired 30 of the works from the series as a boxed portfolio, describing them as 'Standing alongside her Antarctic work [as] Anne Noble’s major body of photography from the 2000s'.
Since 2001, Noble has been researching and visiting the Antarctic, and has produced several series of works on this subject, including Antarctica Iceblink and Antarctica Whiteout. These works are often concerned with how Antarctica has been portrayed in popular perceptions, exploring how we have come to see Antarctica as 'a glistening white world where penguins frolic and snowflakes fall'.
Recently, Noble’s work has investigated the honeybee and its place in our world, research instigated by her time on a Fulbright fellowship based at Columbia College in Chicago as their international artist in residence. Her first exhibition on this subject, Nature Study, was held at Bartley+Company in Wellington in 2015. Writing about these new works, art historian Priscilla Pitts noted:
For several years Noble has focused her camera on Antarctica, 'the last great wilderness on earth', intractable despite our efforts to document and understand it, yet fragile and susceptible to our actions elsewhere on the planet. Noble's attention to the plight of bees arises from the same concern for the natural environment and what we are doing to it. In these new works there is a shift from the ostensibly documentary mode of the Antarctic images towards a more overtly poetic exploration of her subject, something that is familiar from much of her earlier work.
Awards and recognitions
She was awarded the US National Science Foundation Artists and Writers Award in 2008 and the Massey University Research Medal in 2009. In 2015 Noble won the 31st Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Award.
In the 2003 Queen's Birthday Honours Noble was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography. In 2009 she received an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate award. In 2013 Massey University awarded Noble the title of Distinguished Professor.
- Anne Noble, The Wanganui : photographs of a river, Wanganui: Sarjeant Gallery, 1982
- Anne Noble, In the presence of angels : photographs of the contemplative life, Wanganui: Sarjeant Gallery, 1989
- Justin Paton, Lydia Wevers and Anne Kennedy, Anne Noble: States of Grace, Wellington: Victoria University Press and Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 2001. ISBN 0864734255
- Anne Noble, Iceblink, Auckland: Clouds Publishing, 2011 Clouds Publishing website
- Bill Manhire, Anne Noble, Norman Meehan, Hannah Griffin, These Rough Notes, Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2012 ISBN 9780864738318
- Interview with Anne Noble, Arts on Sunday, Radio New Zealand National, 22 November 2009
- Anne Noble interviewed about 'Ice Blink' series, Arts on Sunday, Radio New Zealand National, 19 February 2012
- Anne Noble Upbeat, Radio New Zealand National, 13 March 2012
- Interview with Anne Noble and Tom Hoyle, Saturday Mornings with Kim Hill, Radio New Zealand National, 20 June 2015
- Anne Noble's works at Sarjeant Gallery, Sarjeant Gallery, 16 November 2017
- "Anne Noble". Find New Zealand Artists. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Keith, Sheridan (1983). "Anne Noble's Wanganui". Art New Zealand. 27. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
- "Anne Noble". The Arts Foundation of New Zealand. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Smith, Allan (Spring 1992). "Romanticist and Symbolist Tendencies in Recent New Zealand Photography". Art New Zealand (64): 80–84.
- "Unnerved: The New Zealand Project". QAGOMA. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Anne Noble: States of Grace". Massey University. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Collecting Contemporary - Ruby's Room". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Anne Noble: 'Ruby's room' photographs". Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. Retrieved 14 June 2015.
- "Anne Noble: States of Grace". Victoria University Press. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Anne Noble: States of Grace". Auckland Art Gallery. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Anne Noble: States of Grace". City Gallery Wellington. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- "Anne Noble". Two Rooms. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Irish, Gina (2005–2006). "Southbound: Artists to Antarctica". Art New Zealand. 117.
- "Nature Study". Bartley+Company. Retrieved 7 March 2015.
- Pitts, Priscilla (Winter 2015). "Songs from the Hive: New work by Anne Noble". Art New Zealand. 154: 67.
- "Anne Noble wins Higashikawa Overseas Photographer Award in Japan". Connecting with art. Bartley + Company Gallery. Retrieved 15 June 2015.
- "Queen's Birthday honours list 2003". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 2 June 2003. Retrieved 7 January 2016.
- "Anne Noble (Laureate) ONZM". Massey University. Retrieved 7 March 2015.