Ans Westra

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Ans Westra
CNZM
Born (1936-04-28) 28 April 1936 (age 81)
Leiden, Netherlands
Nationality New Zealander

Ans Westra, CNZM (born 28 April 1936 in Leiden) is a self-taught New Zealand photographer, with an interest in Māori. Her prominence as an artist and author was most amplified by her 1964 piece Washday at the pa.[1] Westra left the Netherlands for New Zealand in 1957.

Early life[edit]

Born Anna Jacoba Westra in 1936 in Leiden, Netherlands, the only child of Pieter Hein Westra and Hendrika Christina van Doorn.[2]

In 1953 Ans moved to Rotterdam and studied at the Industrieschool voor Meisjes, graduating in 1957 with a Diploma in Arts and Craft teaching, specialising in artistic needlework.[3]

Career[edit]

Initial interest in photography[edit]

Ans was exposed to photography as a teenager by her stepfather.[4] A visit in 1956 to the international exhibition The Family of Man in Amsterdam, together with a book by Joan van der Keukens, Wij Zijn 17 (We Are Seventeen), inspired Ans' first photographic documentation, which featured her fellow students.[5]

Her obsession with capturing the world through a camera was instilled after encountering the famous Family of Man exhibition in Amsterdam. This utopian, quasi-anthropological exhibition, curated by MoMA’s Edward Steichen, toured the world from 1955 to 1963, and was a major influence on Westra’s work, as was precocious teenager Joan van der Keuken’s 1955 photobook Wij Zijn 17 (We Are 17), which depicts the lives of post-war Dutch youth.

In 1957 Ans travelled to New Zealand to visit her father who had earlier immigrated. She stayed in Auckland and worked for eight months at Crown Lynn Potteries.

Professional photography[edit]

In 1958 she moved to Wellington, where she joined the Wellington Camera Club and worked in various local photographic studios.[6] In 1960, Ans received international recognition winning a prize from the UK Photography magazine for her work entitled Assignment No. 2.[7] That same year Ans had her first photograph published in New Zealand on the cover of Te Ao Hou, a magazine published by the Department of Māori Affairs.[8] In 1962 she began working as a full-time, freelance documentary photographer. Much of her early work was for the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education and Te Ao Hou magazine.[9]

In 1964 her school bulletin Washday at the Pa was published, and distributed to primary school classrooms throughout New Zealand. Soon after its release the journal was withdrawn by order of the Minister of Education at the request of the Maori Women’s Welfare League. Later in 1964 Washday at the Pa was privately republished by the Caxton Press.[10]

Ans received a Certificate of Excellence from the New York World’s Fair photographic exhibition in 1964–1965.[11] Ans’ son Erik John Westra was born on May 7, 1965, later the same year Ans returned to the Netherlands to live until 1969.[12]

In 1967 Maori was published with photography by Ans Westra and text by James Ritchie.[13]

Ans’ daughter, Lisa Christina van Hulst was born on July 1, 1973, her second son, Adrian Jacob van Hulst was born three years later on December 4, 1976.[14]

In 1982 an archive of Ans’ negatives was established at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington.[15]

Ans was the Pacific regional winner of the Commonwealth Photography Award in 1986, travelling to the Philippines to photograph and then onwards to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and America.[16]

In the late 1980s and 1990s Ans undertook several artist-in-residences including at the Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt (1988–89), the Tylee Cottage Residency, Wanganui (1993) and in 1996, Ans was awarded the inaugural Southland Art Foundation Artist in Residence award by Southland Art Foundation, Southern Institute of Technology, Southland Museum and Art Gallery and Creative New Zealand. In 1998 she was artist-in-residence at the Otago School of Fine Arts, Otago Polytechnic.[17]

Ans was the subject of the 2006 documentary Ans Westra: Private Journeys/Public Thoughts by Luit Bieringa.[18]

Ans' 2009 book and exhibition, The Crescent Moon: The Asian Face of Islam in New Zealand features her own photographs, with text by New Zealand writer Adrienne Jansen. The book's interviews and photographs of thirty-seven individuals give insights into the lives of Asian Muslims in New Zealand.[19]

Washday at the pa was reissued in 2011 by Suite Publishing to include other photos of the same family taken in 1998.[20]

In May 2013, Suite Publishing released Westra's publication: Our Future: Ngā Tau ki Muri, which includes 137 often damning photographs of the New Zealand landscape, with text contributions from Hone Tuwhare, Russel Norman, Brian Turner, David Eggleton and David Lange.

Between February 2013 and April 2014, Ans undertook her Full Circle Tour to revisit centres where she had been particularly active during her career. She visited Ruatoria, Ruatoki, Rotorua, the Whanganui River, Kaitaia, Invercargill and Stewart Island.

In 2014, the digitization of Ans' archive of negatives held at the Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, came into effect through her representative, Suite Tirohanga.

Ans Westra's print Untitled, from Washday at the Pa, 1963, set a new auction record price at NZ$10,575 at Webb's in Auckland, New Zealand, on 11 June 2015.

Westra Museum[edit]

On 20 April 2016 a museum was established, dedicated to the work of Ans Westra.[21] Located above {Suite} at 243 Cuba St, Wellington, New Zealand, the space is 'centrum' for Ans and over 55 years of images. Visitors may browse through articles about the artist dating back to 1960 and view over 200 books featuring Ans' images. Exhibitions change regularly, as do displays of the artist's ephemera.

Awards[edit]

In 1998 Ans was awarded the Companion of the Order of New Zealand Merit for services to photography and in 2007 she became an Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon artist.[22]

On 28 May 2015, Ans received an honorary doctorate from Massey University in recognition of her long-standing contribution to New Zealand’s visual culture.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Ans Westra". Retrieved 15 November 2016. 
  2. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  3. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  4. ^ "The Eye of an Outsider: A Conversation with Ans Westra". Archived from the original on 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  6. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibition
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  8. ^ "Biography of Ans Westra (1936-)". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2016-11-16. 
  9. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  10. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  11. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  12. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  13. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  14. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  15. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 
  17. ^ Handboek: Ans Westra Photographs, 2004, published by Blair Wakefield Exhibitions
  18. ^ Bull, Alastair (10 August 2006). "Coaxing Westra out from behind the lens". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2009-08-02. 
  19. ^ "The Crescent Moon." Asia New Zealand Foundation. 2009. [1]. Accessed 2 March 2009.
  20. ^ Ans Westra’s “Washday At The Pa” Republished. scoop.co.nz. 2011 [last update]. Retrieved 19 October 2011. "{Suite}"
  21. ^ "A living museum for Ans Westra". Radio NZ. 20 April 2016. Retrieved 19 June 2016. 
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-21. Retrieved 2014-08-21. 

External links[edit]