Anne Noble

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1954

Mouth (Ruby’s Room)

  • 2001
  • Photograph
  • Purchased, 2001
  • 1252 x 1839mm
  • 2001/144

Made in the 2000s, Ruby’s Room is a major body of work from photographer Anne Noble consisting of forty images of her daughter Ruby’s mouth. Tightly cropped and in lurid colours, they are at once fun and disturbing. Anne has said that the photographs present a record of growing up “through close scrutiny of a site where life happens – the mouth. The mouth that speaks, tastes, smiles, reacts, learns, loves, etc. They celebrate and magnify moments of growing up that are not normally celebrated, and they're deliberately not erotic, not romantic, not ideal, not perfect. […] I was interested in overlooked moments that when depicted might create a discordant challenge to the adult romance with childhood as lost innocence.”

(Perilous: Unheard Stories from the Collection, 6 August 2022- )

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • [I See Red, 5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008] (

    Red can be in-your-face and attention-seeking, and the attention red wants, red gets. Anne Noble’s enormous, cheeky photograph Mouth (Ruby’s Room) gives more than an eyeful of her daughter Ruby’s protruding tongue and chewing gum.

    Q. What red sound would this artwork make? A. A giant raspberry!

    (I See Red, 5 December 2007 - 23 November 2008)

  • This work is part of a series entitled ‘Ruby’s Room’ that features large scale, close-up, vibrantly coloured photographs of Anne Noble’s daughter, Ruby. Here Ruby’s mouth is shown full of garish pink-red bubblegum.

    The photo zooms in on her mouth, lifting the sight from the cute and everyday to something more symbolic and powerful. It’s a good example of Noble’s ability to take otherwise ordinary scenes or subjects and, through a sense of concentration and stillness, translate them into images that have great emotional and visual impact.

    Born in Wanganui, Noble is one of New Zealand’s most respected photographers. She studied for her Bachelor of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, receiving the Elam Art School Scholarship in 1979. In 1985 she was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council travel grant, which enabled her to attend the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, New York in 1985. She has also lived in London. In 2002 Noble was a participant in the Artists in Antarctica programme. (2004 label)