This week I've been visiting Akaroa, checking out the Kelliher exhibition which is currently visiting the Powerhouse
The Kelliher Art Competition was run in NZ each year from 1956-1977 by the Kelliher Trust - Sir Henry Kelliher was the managing director of Dominion Breweries and he set up the art competition with the proviso that paintings represented "the visible aspects of New Zealands landscape and coastal scenes in a realistic and traditional way".
Each year the exhibitions , mostly at the Academy of Fine Arts in Wellington, were very popular with many visitors and sales.Sir Henry ensured that many of the paintings were also shown in DB hotels all around the country so that as many people as possible could enjoy them.
By the late 1970s the opportunity to exhibit and sell New Zealand landscapes was becoming a rare thing, other art forms were seen as more important or relevant , and much of the Trust collection has been sadly in storage. The Kelliher Trust still buys and commissions NZ landscape works from time to time, ensuring the that Sir Henry's original intention of encouraging NZ landscape painting is kept alive. From time to time part of the collection is taken on tour, and that is what is happening at Akaroa at the moment ( it's then off to Dunedin).
Ironically, many paintings of our iconic landscapes are still sold and treasured by both local and overseas buyers , but it's often regarded in a slightly snobbish way compared to other art forms.
For myself , I paint mountains because they fascinate me. The constantly changing light, the scarred faces of the mountainside telling its geological history, places where you see that no one ever goes. The mountains were here before us and will still be standing long after Homo sapiens has vanished in a self induced extinction!
I feel honoured that I'm able to stand before them with my easel and maybe capture just a little of that enduring majesty.
It was humbling to be able to enjoy these beautiful paintings by some of our master painters, and realise that they felt the same way about our land.
If you ever get the opportunity to view the Kelliher paintings please go and see them , I'm sure that you won't regret it ..
PS. If you'd like to see some of my recent mountain paintings they'll be showing at Wall to Wall Art, 112 Bridge St, Nelson from Wednesday - or if you pick up a copy of this months issue of the New Zealand Artist magazine you can read my feature article on how I painted them!