In celebration of 125 years since women gained the right to vote, we are sharing the stories of inspirational and trailblazing New Zealand women. Una Garlick, one of the first successful female photographers, defined her generation by bringing the style of pictorialism to the forefront in the early 1900s.


Header image: Auckland Railway Station and Te Taou Reserve, Garlick, Una (Eunice Harriett), 1883-1951, 1930s, PH-1955-1-14502.

Greys Avenue - Auckland City, Garlick, Una (Eunice Harriett), 1883-1951, ca. 1924, PH-1955-1-14503

Una Garlick immersed herself in photography at the time publications such as Camera Work were circulating to Australia and Japan. She identified with Pictorialism, a movement that sought to create unique artworks with photography. Pictorialists described their work as ‘Camera Studies’ rather than photographs.  A 1939 exhibition at Smith & Caughey Limited was called Exhibition of Camera Studies in Sepia and Black and White.

Her landscapes and portraits attracted the attention of clubs and competitions.

The Auckland Camera Club (Auckland Photographic Society) changed its rules to admit her as the first ‘lady’ member in 1921, opening the way for other women to follow.

She won many competitions, achieving international recognition for her work which was displayed in London, Paris, Boston and Vancouver.

Una travelled with car and camera and took many landscapes.

The emotional investment in creating the right mood for the moments in her images is represented by the way she experimented

- until she achieved the desired result, sometimes in the field and sometimes in the darkroom. Her work along with other pictorialists, stands out from the realism expected from both commercial and documentary photography. 


Image (right): Una Garlick. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-CNEG-C28213​

Using a range of techniques from the rich tones of platinum to the bromoil technique perfected by Robert Demachy, Una produced unique variations in each print. A soft image could be produced with the bromoil process of bleaching a silver bromide positive and inking (usually sepia brown or black ink) it back by brush or roller to create a soft blur as the ink replaces the silver. 

Una’s subjects include the ‘pioneer’, portraits of Maori women, and a large range of landscapes, both rural and urban. Her nephew noted,

“She had an eye for a beautiful tree in an artistic setting.”

She was eventually awarded an A.R.P.S. medallion, becoming an associate of the Royal Photographic Society signing her works A.R.P.S.


Image (right): Street scene - Auckland Central, Garlick, Una (Eunice Harriett), 1883-1951, 1930s, PH-1989-14-15

Olive trees - Cornwall Park, Garlick, Una (Eunice Harriett), 1883-1951, 1920s-1930s, PH-1989-14-65

Pleasure craft welcoming the fleet, Garlick, Una (Eunice Harriett), 1883-1951, 1924, PH-1989-14-187

Una printed in platinum as early as 1924 with her Pleasure craft Auckland harbour series (one image from this series above). Some of these were later reprinted after she started using A.R.P.S. on her stamp. The image above, as indicated on the verso note, shows that this was showed at an exhibition in Pittsburgh Salon in 1926 and London Salon in 1929.

Garlick, Una. Cabbage trees Tamaki River Auckland. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-667

Garlick, Una. Muriwai. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-665

As you can see from the rich tonal range in these two prints above, Platinum offers a superb range from black to white, rendering greater detail in the shadows than any other process.

Other images give the characteristic softness attained brush when making bromoil and gum prints, as can be seen below (with a comparative shot underneath). Both Una and another Pictorialist in our Collection, Gerald E. Jones, made soft images of this nature.

Garlick, Una. (Oct 1928). Fishing Boats Auckland Waterfront. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-550

Garlick, Una. Fishing Smacks Auckland Waterfront. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-545

Garlick, Una. St Andrews Church Lower Symonds St Auckland War Memorial Museum in the distance. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-633

Garlick, Una. Boat Harbour Auckland Waterfront. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-805

Garlick, Una. (1920s) "The Pioneer". Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tamaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-3.

Garlick, Una. Rangitoto Auckland harbour An unique mountain. Auckland War Memorial Museum Tāmaki Paenga Hira. PH-1989-14-578

Are We There Yet?

Una Garlick opened the way for women to join the Auckland Camera Club and submit their work for competition. She was a committee member by 1927, having won the annual medal in the previous year. Her presence would have provided great inspiration to others, especially noting the presence of her work in the very European and North American salons which many held in high regard. Una dedicated herself to photography; her camera was never far from her hand and was certainly in high demand from those who knew her. Her contribution to the pictorialist movement earned the respect of her contemporaries and practitioners abroad, along with the status of Associate of the Royal Society of Great Britain.

Cite this article 

Higgins, Shaun. 'Una Garlick', Auckland War Memorial Museum - Tāmaki Paenga Hira, Published: 19 10 2018.