I’ve just discovered the New Zealand Portrait Gallery website and, during a quick browse around, this lovely portrait of the writer and scholar Dame Joan Metge caught my eye. To me it is a wonderful portrait revealing a beautifully aged face full of expression and wisdom. I love portraits both painted and photographed. And libraries are great places for wonderful books full of portraiture.
A teenage job saw me working at the National Library in Wellington and one of the joys of the job for me was the discovery of a treasure trove of photography books full of wonderful portraits. I would sit on the stairs poring over them. This love has continued and some interesting New Zealand books of portraits include:
- Marti Friedlander by Leonard Bell
- Click! portraits of New Zealanders by Reg Graham
- Big Smoke New Zealand city people in the 60s and 70s by John Daley
- This thing in the mirror; self portraits by New Zealand artists by Claire Finlayson
Our heritage photos contain some lovely photos of people like this one of the shoe-shine man in Cathedral Square and Elizabeth McCombs, New Zealand’s first woman MP.
If you want to visit the NZ Portrait Gallery it is housed in a beautiful old brick wharf shed on Wellington’s waterfront. Lots of writers’ portraits are among the treasures like this beauty of Janet Frame by Robin Morrison.
Do you have a favourite portrait – or book of portraits?