Three angles of Maharey in Noble photograph

Steve Maharey, his portrait and Distinguished Professor Anne Noble

Steve Maharey has broken with tradition.

Instead of an oil painting recognising his tenure (2008-16) as the University’s fifth Vice-Chancellor, he chose to be photographed by award-winning Distinguished Professor Anne Noble for the portrait that will hang alongside other Massey leaders in Tiritea House at Manawatū.

It was unveiled yesterday at a short function hosted by Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Thomas.

"When we thought about it, we realised that we are actually known for a range of contemporary forms of art, and one of them is photography,” Mr Maharey said. “We happen to have a world-renowned photographer in Anne. So we decided to move in a direction that was a bit different, but a medium that the university is known for.

“It's not just a picture of a head, like a portrait might be, it's a little bit innovative. Perhaps it will say to people that there are all these paintings with their own stories, but this will make them question when this was taken, when did this happen and what was going on then for the University.”

Professor Noble, from the College of Creative Arts, said it did not take long for her to agree to the challenge. "A good portrait should never explain itself, or explain the person, but present opportunities to consider all sorts of ideas. My job was to say, here's what I know of Steve, and then take what I know, and what I think a portrait should be, then challenge myself to do something that might set the stage for future representations.”

The portrait

The inspiration

The photograph, which uses mirrors to show three angles of Maharey, was inspired by a 1919 portrait of Marcel Duchamp by Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven.

“In the portrait of Marcel Duchamp he is very playfully portrayed with a representation of past, present and future,” Professor Noble said. “So he's sitting there with his pipe with a mysterious sense of magic in how are these three presences. The role of vice-chancellor is a very significant and there is something to remember of the person and their contribution. It deals with the present, the real, and the now, but in a very different way from the traditions of painted portraiture. To try and combine those two things as an artist was challenging.”

The portrait will sit in Turitea House, the former residence of all the principals and vice-chancellors until Mr Maharey – another tradition he broke with.

Massey Contact Centre Mon - Fri 8:30am to 4:30pm 0800 MASSEY (+64 6 350 5701) TXT 5222 Web chat Staff Alumni News Māori @ Massey