NZ on Screen has compiled a collection of Brian Brake’s work for us to enjoy, to celebrate his life and work alongside the Exhibition that Te Papa museum has on the successful photographer.
Brian Brake is regarded as New Zealand’s most successful international photographer. But before heading overseas, working for photo agency Magnum and snapping iconic shots of Picasso and the famous Monsoon series for Life magazine, Brake was also an accomplished composer of moving images. In his 20s, he shot many films for the National Film Unit, including New Zealand’s first Oscar-nominated film.
NZ On Screen is delighted to present this record of Brake’s formative moving image work to complement the launch of a major Brake exhibition at Te Papa. Alongside the exhibition surveying Brake’s life’s work, a magnificent book, Brian Brake: Lens on the World (edited by Athol McCredie), has been published by Te Papa Press. The exhibition opens on 23 October 2010.
Brake brought his distinctive eye to several of the tourism and documentary films produced by the NFU during the late 1940s and early 1950s.
The films in the NZ On Screen collection include NZ’s first Oscar-nominated film, Snows of Aorangi. Brake had a particular affinity for the Southern Alps: “because I was brought up among the mountains”. Other stunning examples of his alpine cinematography are found in Prelude to Aspiring and high country farming classic The Snowline is Their Boundary.
Also included is the first colour footage of Waitomo Caves; and Canterbury is a Hundred (of which an extract opened Peter Jackson’s feature film Heavenly Creatures), and Brake’s innovative filming of pianist Richard Farrell playing a Chopin waltz.
There is an excerpt and rare ‘lost’ footage from the 2006 documentary on Brake’s incomplete Aspiring project, which revisits the attempt by a Brake-led all-star Kiwi art team (Baxter, Lilburn, Drawbridge) to make a ‘cinematic poem’ from an ascent of the mountain.
In a background written piece Te Papa’s Lissa Mitchell — Collection Manager Art (Photography & New Media Art) — discusses Brake’s time at the NFU and his apprenticeship in “painting with light”.
Many thanks to Te Papa and Archives New Zealand, for their support in helping present this collection. Te Papa are the guardians of the Brake photographic collection, and Archives New Zealand are the custodians of the National Film Unit archive.
For the full listing of this story please follow this link: NZ on screen