Marti Friedlander

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

Self Portrait

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

Marti Friedlander is best known for photographing other people, but in this early, evanescent self-portrait she instead focuses the lens on herself. Caught in a mirror as she looks down into her Rolleicord camera, natural light falls gently across her face from one direction. Marti preferred natural light to flash in her photography, saying “… available light means everything to me”. Taken just a few years after she made Aoteaora New Zealand her home in 1958, Marti went on to become one of the country’s most respected photographers over the course of her five-decade career.

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • “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.