Anne Noble - Ruby's Room

Exhibition: 21 April to 22 May, 2004

Anne Noble

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Anne Noble is one of New Zealand's foremost contemporary artists. Stills Gallery is delighted to be able to present her ongoing photographic series, Ruby's Room.

The work was begun in response to Noble's daughter Ruby scribbling with blue biro over a black and white print of herself naked. When asked about it she declared, 'Never, ever photograph me naked!' Her objection to being photographed naked led Noble to consider closely the visual depiction of childhood and to wonder about the habitual tendency of adults to associate romance and innocence with the bodies of children. She wanted to question and challenge the supposedly benevolent pleasures associated with this kind of gazing at the body of a child.

The project was also conceived of as an archaeology of childhood. The mouth was selected as a site of investigation - it speaks, tastes, smiles, reacts, learns, and loves. As the series grew it became a catalogue of minor rites of passage, overlooked moments or happenings, that are sometimes caught spontaneously and at other times re-created for the camera. Ruby participates in the making of the photographs. The images are physical and visceral with the use of vivid colour and close-up consistent throughout the series.

The images are in fact playful and innocent - but to the adult imagination confronting and provocative. To see and experience the mouth as a site imbued with the complexities of their own physical experiences is disturbing. The interest for Noble lies here - in this disturbance - of imaginary disembodied physical and sensory experience.

Noble's work is included in major public and private collections throughout New Zealand and has been shown in a number of significant group exhibitions. In 2003 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to photography in New Zealand.