Westra reconnects with the south

Photographer Ans Westra is holding a new exhibition titled Full Circle in the south.
Photographer Ans Westra is holding a new exhibition titled Full Circle in the south.

Photographer Ans Westra has come full circle as she returns to the south.

Westra has been in Invercargill for the past few days reconnecting and sharing memories with the community.

In 1990, Westra tutored for a workshop at the Southland Polytechnic Southern Art School and six years later undertook an artist's residency at the Southland Museum and Art Gallery.

Eighteen years later she is presenting a show called Full Circle at the Southern Institute of Technology's Raw Gallery.

The show contains photographs from her time in Southland as well as photographs from throughout her career.

Despite the time she has been away, Invercargill had not become unrecognisable, she said.

The A&P shows and the races had not changed.

''We could still see these people,'' she said.

Westra is most widely recognised for her 1964 work Washday at the pa, which was a children's book documenting a day in the lives of a rural Maori family.

Throughout her career Westra has been intrigued with Maori people and culture, she said.

It all comes down to her mother's eyes.

Westra fell in love with Maori when she saw they had big, brown eyes much like her mother's, she said.

Her latest book, Our Future Ngā Tau ki Muri, contains photos taken during the past 20 years, and acts as a commentary on how the landscape of New Zealand has been manipulated by settlers.

Dispersed amongst the 137 images is commentary by poets and politicians such as Hone Tuwhare, Russell Norman and former Prime Minister David Lange.

In 1977, Westra saw Southland for the first time and she still sees the beauty.

''It's still a very lovely landscape and I can see further development,'' she said.

Westra begins a week-long show on Stewart Island on Monday. Full Circle runs until tomorrow at the SIT Raw Gallery in Don St.


The Southland Times