Ans Westra @ {SUITE} Gallery

This month we talk with {Suite} Gallery about their exciting upcoming exhibition featuring 35 new photographs by internationally renowned photographer Ans Westra.

Can you share with us the inspiration behind this specific exhibition? This exhibition honours Ans’s work one year after her passing, and is also timed to coincide with the launch of Paul Moon’s biography about Ans’s life, out on 9 May. This exhibition introduces 35 new images that have just been printed for the first time in the modern era, so it will be exciting to see people’s reactions to images that they've never seen before.

How has Suite Gallery provided a platform for artists like Ans Westra to showcase their work?
The Westra archive is managed by a company established by Ans and Suite Director David Alsop in 2013. As well as cataloguing and guardianship of the archive, and print sales and copyright management, we run the @answestra instagram account (well worth a look) and hold regular exhibitions of Ans’s images in our Wellington and Ponsonby galleries. See

How does Ans Westra's work resonate with the audience?
Ans’s work operates on many levels. There’s the documentary aspect, the cultural significance, artistic merit and a feeling of nostalgia when one looks at her work. Generally, Ans has seen beauty in people and places, and recorded that in an artistic way.

What unique elements do you think Ans Westra brings to the art world as a photographer?
Ans thought of herself as an artist first and foremost, not just a photographer. We notice, particularly when we take Ans’s images overseas, that she is revered as an artist on any stage. When we look at her images as New Zealanders, we bring with us a context that informs (partly) how we read the image. Without that context, the images operate mostly as artistic creations. Ans’s photography is widely praised as was seen with tributes being published in The New York Times and The Guardian.

Can you speak about any challenges or highlights faced during the preparation for this exhibition?
A constant challenge with such a massive photo archive is the selection of images to show! We wanted to include a few images photographed in Ponsonby and other parts of Auckland.

How do you think Ans Westra's style has evolved over the years, and what can viewers expect to see in this current collection?
The style of the images in this exhibition will be familiar to people who know Ans’s documentary work. The images are all black and white images photographed across the 1960s – 80s. In the early 2000s, Ans moved away from photographing people to what she called her creative work: photographs of gardens and the landscape, sometimes to demonstrate what a mess humans and climate change have made.

Lastly, how do you envision the impact of Ans’s work on art enthusiasts and aspiring photographers?
Ans is so iconic that many aspiring photographers want to be like her. In the Westra Vault that we have set up in Wellington (where the archive is stored) we have displays of Ans’s cameras, proof sheets and ephemera. When we get more organised we’ll be able to take visitors there. Stay tuned!

{SUITE} GALLERY, 189 Ponsonby Road, T: 09 218 4399,

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Published: March 2024