Marti Friedlander

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

Olivia Spencer Bower - The Artist’s Living Room

  • Purchased, 1998
  • Photograph
  • 490 x 390mm
  • 98/107
  • 1978

Olivia Spencer Bower (1905–1982) was a significant Canterbury artist and this photographic portrait of her is part of a series of New Zealand artists by Marti Friedlander. She has chosen to portray Spencer Bower in her domestic environment, showing the many artworks in her living room. The portrait reveals Spencer Bower’s character as both mischievous and independent. The way the light falls on her subject is often the catalyst for when Friedlander chooses to press the shutter. Here the softness of the atmosphere heightens this evocative moment in time. Friedlander was born in London, she studied photography at Bloomsbury Technical School and worked as a studio assistant for portrait photographer Douglas Glass and fashion photographer Gordon Crocker. She arrived in Auckland with her New Zealand husband Gerrard in 1958. However, it was not until 1964, after returning from a year in Israel and Europe, that Friedlander began taking photographs full-time. She was awarded a Companion of New Zealand Order of Merit in 1999.