Phyllis Hartigan, born 1912: Picturing Canterbury

Phyllis Hartigan, born 1912. Kete Christchurch. Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Photo of Phyllis in a Boer War uniform.

On the back of the photo:” Happy Returns Tom,  April 27th 1915, from sister Phyllis.”

Date: 7 April 1915.

Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Beverley Dickson.

About Photo Hunt

October is Photo Hunt month at Christchurch City Libraries. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

Share your photos and help us to create a true picture of our city’s rich history. Anyone can contribute.

Maude Chisnall, aged 16: Picturing Canterbury

Maude Chisnall, aged 16. Kete Christchurch. PH16-019. Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Jill Hodgkinson. CC-BY-NA-SA-3.0 NZ.

Maude Chisnall. Photo taken by Standish & Preece. High Street, Christchurch.

Date: c.1902

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch & Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Some portraits of First World War service

Thumbnail Image of James Alexander AdamsThumbnail Image of Michael Ian AdamsonThumbnail Image of John Michael Winter EvansThumbnail Image of James Horne AitkenThumbnail Image of David AndersonThumbnail Image of Arthur Charles Warner BainThumbnail Image of Maxwell Stewart BainThumbnail Image of George Frederick BryantThumbnail Image of Frank Linton ButtleThumbnail Image of Edwin Grandison CochraneThumbnail Image of Sarsfield CollinsThumbnail Image of Thomas Francis DeveningThumbnail Image of Maurice DugganThumbnail Image of John ErwinThumbnail Image of William Arthur FairbairnThumbnail Image of George Weir FergusonThumbnail Image of Alfred Ernest FraserThumbnail Image of Ralph Jocelyn Gale

Monday 25 April is Anzac Day. We have added to our collection a series of photos of local men and women who served in the First World War. Each portrait links to a short biography. We will remember them.

See our biographies of local soldiers on Kete Christchurch.

Facebooks

Cover: Anne of Cleves
The discarded bride

In with a chance to become the fourth Queen of England, Anne of Cleves could have saved herself a whole heap of bother had Facebook  existed in her day.

For starters she could have cut out the middleman artist, posted her own selfie and just sat back and waited for King Henry VIII to take one of three possible actions: click like, make a comment such as “LOL”, or unfriend her on the spot (today’s equivalent of beheading).

But no, in the 16th century you had to go and get your portrait painted. Pity the poor artist, Hans Holbein the Younger, caught between his plain subject, an out of control King and a punishing time frame.

But Henry was quite taken with the portrait. It was Anne of Cleves herself whom he loathed on sight. Referring to her as ‘that Flanders mare’, he is reputed to have claimed she did not look English enough. And if you want to know what that means, read The English Face – which Oscar Wilde dismissed in just  four words (the face that is, not the book):

Once seen, never remembered

The Royal marriage was never consummated and was finally annulled. But the portrait lives on, as portraits tend to do.

Cover: A Face to the World
Your own self portrait may not look as good as this!

There is so much human drama in this little bit of history and whichever part of it piques your interest, the library has the book for you: books on portraits, King Henry VIII and social networking.

You may even be tempted to paint a self portrait. Be warned though that nothing will drive you to substance abuse faster than attempting to make a painting of  yourself, cutting as it does to the core of the disparity between how you think you look and what the rest of the world may actually be seeing.

But my absolute favourite book of faces is a book on moko tattoos called The Blue Privilege – The Last Tattooed Maori Women : Te Kuia Moko  by Harry Sangl. This art book is rare for me, in that I devoured all the paintings with my eyes and read every word with my heart. It truly is a taonga.

And were it ever to crop up on facebook, I’d go the whole hog: like, comment and share.

Joy of portraits Kiwi style

book coverI’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:

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?

Moving Pictures

Hounded by authorities because of taxes, left-leaning politics and a liking for young ladies, the once adored comic Charlie Chaplin split the United States in 1952.  On his last day in the country, he finally consented to his portrait being taken by the noted fashion photographer Richard Avedon. Avedon had been keen to take Chaplin’s photo for many years, but the actor continually declined.  After a full day’s shooting, Chaplin gave Avedon the perfect, spontaneous photo. Head down, fingers aside his head like devil horns, he grins at the camera. It’s an unforgettable image, both humourous and political. Chaplin’s goodbye to the States is one of the most memorable in Performance, a new collection of Avedon portraits.  The subjects are all leading performance artists, and while you may recognise the names, many of these images have never been published before.  Avedon had an ability to really capture the vitality of his subjects, and these photographs all possess a charming lack of inhibition. 

The Avedon book has really fancy packaging and will look great laying on your coffee table for a couple of weeks. Indeed, big, glossy photography books abound at the moment. The other one I’m poring over is Vanity Fair the portraits : a century of iconic images.  Vanity Fair has a well established reputation as a stylish chronicle of society, so this celebration of their most famous sitters was always going to be good.  Considerable thought has gone into the  juxtaposition of  the images and the result makes leafing through the pages more thought provoking. I especially liked the placing of covergirl Kate Moss, gorgeous in a Marlene Dietrich style tuxedo, facing a page with a photo of La Dietrich herself.