Overview

John Walsh (b.1954, Aitanga a Hauiti/ New Zealand Irish) grew up in Tolaga Bay and now lives on the south coast of Wellington, where the sea continues to draw him back to the canvas. Walsh melds histories of migration and colonialism with contemporary narratives and mythologies in a vibrant and fluid application of paint. His works depict ethereal landscapes populated by a cast of anthropomorphic creatures, contemporary characters, and obscure figures.

 

Walsh attended Ilam School of Fine Arts at the University of Canterbury, and early works saw him create stunning realist portraits of friends and whanau from Tolaga Bay and East Coast communities in a style reminiscent of C. F. Goldie. In 1989 Walsh participated in an international mural project in New York. Upon returning to New Zealand he began working in a number of tertiary institutions, eventually relocating his family to Wellington for an appointment as Curator of Contemporary Maori Art at the National Art Gallery (now Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa).

 

The Dowse Art Museum and Pataka Art + Museum have both held significant survey exhibitions of Walsh’s work. The artist travels extensively, including visits to China on different residency programmes, and to Antarctica as a Creative New Zealand /Antarctica New Zealand's artist-in-residence. In 2015 Walsh travelled to Gallipoli alongside a number of other New Zealand and Australian artists to produce work for the touring exhibition Your Friend the Enemy. His paintings from this time are potent with ghosts and shadowy figures, recalling the lives and spirits of fallen soldiers who now linger in far flung lands, forever linking us with these landscapes.

 

In his most recent body of work figures convene with spirits or messengers. Brides roam unearthly looking coastlines, their dresses trailing and merging with the landscape, searching for their betrothed or perhaps a means of escape. Boats drift gently across the surface of the water or above the land, as if propelled by unseen forces. Some works are heavy with allegory or appear as harbingers foretelling the destruction of our natural environment. Others hint at ominous events and mysterious ceremonial practices, all imbued with the artist’s wry and playful humour.

 

 

 

Exhibitions
Works
Biography

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

2019

Papatuanuku and Us, Page Galleries, Wellington
Mercurial, Gow Landsford Gallery, Auckland
John Walsh, A Portrait of Ūawa Tolaga Bay He Whakaahua o Ūawa, New Zealand
Portrait Gallery, Wellington
2018

John Walsh, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington

2017

National Bank, Paul Nache Gallery, Gisborne

2016

John Walsh, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington

2015
John Walsh, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington
Gallipoli, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland

2014
John Walsh, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington

2013
John Walsh, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington
John Walsh, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland

2012
MERCURIAL, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington
I Can’t Stop Loving You, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland

2010
New Paintings, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington

2009
New Paintings, John Leech Gallery, Auckland
Flying Solo – Paintings by John Walsh, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt

2008
Thoughts on Antarctica, Janne Land Art Gallery, Wellington

2007
John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland

2006
Storyboard for a New Zealand Movie, John Leech Gallery, Auckland

2005
John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland

2004
John Walsh, John Leech Gallery, Auckland

2003
John Walsh, Gow Langsford Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2002
Orokohanga – Genesis, Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua; John Leech Gallery, Auckland

2001
New Works, Janne Land Gallery, Wellington; John Leech Gallery, Auckland
Recent Works, Verve Café Gallery, Gisborne

2000
New Works & Nanny Mango Originals, Archill Gallery, Auckland

 

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS

2011
Oceania: Imagining the Pacific, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington
Between Earth and Sky, Page Blackie Gallery, Wellington

2008
Into the Blue, Paul Nache Gallery, Gisborne

2006
Birds, Pataka Art + Museum, Porirua

2005
Frieze, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
John Pule, Sofia Tekela-Smith, John Walsh, Martin Browne Gallery, Sydney, Australia

2002
This Other World, The Dowse Art Museum, Lower Hutt

2001
Purangiaho: A Survey of Contemporary Maori Artists, Auckland Art Gallery, Auckland
Awataha Summer Festival of Arts, Awataha Marae, Auckland
Surprise, Michael Hirchfeld Gallery, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington
Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington

2000
MY2K Celebrating The Real Millenium, Marsden Gallery, Featherston
Past Life, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington
Wananga 2000, Gisborne Museum and Arts Centre, Gisborne

 

AWARDS & RESIDENCIES

2009
Wellington – Xiamen (China) Sister City Cultural Exchange and Residency, Asia New Zealand

2007
Antarctica Artist-in-Residency Programme, Creative New Zealand

1991
Te Waka Toi Studio Grant

1989
Te Waka Toi Studio Grant (international mural project, New York)

1980
MASPAC and Maori Affairs Grant (Portrait of Tolaga Bay project)

1979
Merit Award, Montana Art Awards, Gisborne

1977
Bank of New Zealand Portrait Award

 

COLLECTIONS

James Wallace Collection, Auckland
Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand, Wellington
Sargeant Gallery Collection, Whanganui
Jean Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre Collection, Noumea, New Caledonia.
Private collections

Bibliography

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Tracey Clement, Traversing Worlds: John Walsh, Australian Art Collector Magazine, Issue 82, October - December 2017.

Elizabeth Caughey and John Gow, Contemporary New Zealand Art 4 (David Bateman, 2005).
Witi Ihimaera and Nagrina Ellis (eds.), Te Ata: Maori from the East Coast (Reed Publishing, 2002).
Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Te Maunga Taranaki: Views of a Mountain, exhibition catalogue, 2001.
Te Miringa Hohaia, Gregory O’Brien, and Lara Strongman (eds.), Parihaka: The Art of Passive Resistance (City Gallery Wellington, Parihaka Pa Trustees, Victoria University Press, 2000).
John Walsh, Nanny Mango (Te Papa Press, 2000).
Sheridan Gundry, “Pathfinder Painter”, North and South, July 1997.
Sandy Adsett, Cliff Whiting, Whiti Ihimaera (eds.), Mataora (David Bateman, 1996).
Peter Beatson, Dianne Beatson (eds.), The Arts in Aotearoa New Zealand (Massey University, 1994).

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