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Peter Black

Peter Black’s Biography

Last Updated:
14/09/2023, 11:55 am
Arts Foundation Laureate 2023
“I simply fell in love with photography when I saw the Tony Ray-Jones book in 1975. I learnt that if a photographer had direct engagement with the world, they could produce a genuine work of fine art. Of course photos can have the magical ability to stop time and thus allow us to examine the world, but in the end the best of them become art – yet they remain as mysterious as a dream.”

2023 Arts Foundation Te Tumu Toi Laureate receiving the Marti Friedlander Photography award

Peter Black is a long time photographer of Aotearoa’s social landscape. With a career spanning almost 50 years, the Christchurch-born photographer is recognised as one of Aotearoa New Zealand’s foremost photographers.

His work includes black and white and colour photography, along with several photobook publications, the most recent of which is Motel Life (pub MMM Photobooks, 2021). His photographic journey began in the early ’70s, when he first picked up a 35mm single-lens reflex Pentax Spotmatic, which he purchased duty-free on a visit to Brisbane. In 1980, his exhibition Fifty Photographs was the first solo show of photography at the then National Art Gallery. His work is in many national and private collections, including Te Papa and the Sarjeant Art Gallery.

Panel Statement:

“Peter Black has been making wonderful photographs for over fifty years. His photographs, first black and white, and then colour as well, have been widely exhibited in public and private galleries and published in books and periodicals. Initially characterised as a ‘street photographer’, it is probably more cogent to see to see his work as representations of ‘social landscapes’; not just imaging the look of people in particular locations, but also their behaviour and interactions with other people and places. While grounded in the real or actual, his photographs are compellingly poetic and imaginative constructions. As such, he is one of New Zealand’s best and most versatile photographers, a true artist in the medium. Indeed, one could say that his recognition as a Arts Foundation Laureate is more than well-deserved, and perhaps even long overdue.”