Special Event:
Ans Westra Photo Exhibition

Doc Edge is the home for all things documentary including photography. This year, we are honoured to celebrate and exhibit some of Ans's work in The Capitol Cinema and Roxy foyers during the festival.

Ans Westra, CNZM (1936 – 2023) was a pioneer of documentary photography and one of the first women to work in this area in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Born in Leiden, the Netherlands, Ans immigrated to New Zealand in 1957 at the age of 21, eventually basing herself in Wellington as a full-time freelance photographer. Self-taught, Ans was an expert at capturing what she called “ordinary life”: the immediate and unselfconscious interactions of ordinary people and places.

For over 60 years Ans was a fixture up and down the country at community events, hui, dances, hikoi, woolsheds and streets; a tall, unassuming woman, quietly taking photographs, looking down through the viewfinder of her trusty Rolleiflex, and more recently digital devices.  She also photographed around the world including Tonga, Fiji, the Netherlands, the Philippines and New York.

In 2012 Ans established Suite Tirohanga with {Suite} Director David Alsop to act as manager of her print archive and copyright. In 2015 she gifted all of her negatives to the Alexander Turnbull Library, and a project between Suite Tirohanga and the National Library of New Zealand commenced to digitise her archive – an unparalleled collection comprising more than 300,000 images.

Ans’ photos are catalogued by location and date with additional information about events, activities and people in the images noted where known. Unlimited online access to her archive is available via the National Library website.

Since her passing Ans has been remembered widely, including international coverage in The New York Times, Guardian and Volkskrant.  She is survived by her half-sister, three children and six grandchildren. 

For more info visit https://suite.co.nz/answestra/  

A film about Ans

Step right up and experience the visual journey of a lifetime with “Ans Westra Private Journeys/Public Signposts“! 

This incredible film, directed by Luit Bieringa, captures the essence of New Zealand’s cultural landscape through the lens of renowned photographer Ans Westra. And now, for a limited time only, you can watch it for FREE on the Doc Edge Festival Virtual Cinema as part of the Ans Westra Photography Exhibition.

Get ready to be transported into Westra’s world as she shares her intimate experiences and unique perspectives on New Zealand’s cultural and social changes throughout the years. From remote rural communities to bustling city streets, the film offers a fascinating glimpse into the heart and soul of Aotearoa.

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