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Landscapes

Milford Sound, Fiordland. Taken for New Zealand, gift of the sea (1963)
Milford Sound, Fiordland. Taken for New Zealand, gift of the sea (1963) 1960, Brake, Brian (1927–1988), Southland. Gift of Mr Raymond Wai-Man Lau, 2001. Te Papa

Brake’s interest in photographing mountain landscapes began in his teenage years when he lived at Arthur’s Pass in New Zealand’s Southern Alps.

In fact, writer Maurice Shadbolt (his collaborator on the 1963 book New Zealand, gift of the sea, as well as the 1988 Readers Digest Guide to New Zealand) complained that he was always having to drag Brake away from shots of mountains.

Not surprisingly, in 1955, when Austrian photographer Ernst Haas looked at the photographs Brake had taken of New Zealand in the late 1940s and early 1950s, he said, ‘Very nice, but where are all the people?’.

Certainly the dominant impression conveyed by New Zealand, gift of the sea is of wild, empty landscapes, although photographs of people and cities also feature. Given Brake’s early background, it is perhaps not surprising that he saw New Zealand in terms of landscapes.

But he also had a career-long tendency towards spectacle – whether the grand mountainscape, a parade in China’s Tiananmen Square, or the epic story of the monsoon.



© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.