Marti Friedlander

England / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1928, d.2016

Self Portrait

  • Purchased with the generous assistance of the artist and FHE Galleries, 2016
  • Vintage silver gelatin print
  • 304 x 254mm
  • 2016/054
  • 1961

“It never ceases to be a revelation to see the negative, and to make from it a photo that holds the mystery of a vanished moment.” – Marti Friedlander

Marti Friedlander, the photographer responsible for some of the most quintessentially ‘New Zealand’ images, grew up with her sister in a Jewish orphanage in London’s East End. She studied photography at Bloomsbury Technical School and worked as a studio assistant before coming here in 1958, following her marriage to New Zealander Gerrard Friedlander.

A conscious outsider, she used photography as a way of connecting with her new home, later recalling how it allowed her to “record the unfamiliar and make it coherent”. Confronted by a landscape that seemed vast and empty, Friedlander sought out human presence, capturing memorable images of children, Māori kuia and working artists in her distinctively direct style. Over more than forty years, she unerringly revealed the remarkable in the everyday, chronicling her adopted country as it underwent great and rapid change.

This early, evanescent self-portrait, caught in a mirror as Friedlander looked down into her Rollei camera, is one of six of her works acquired for the Gallery’s collection in 2016.