John Walsh

ABOUT JOHN WALSH

“Despite not holding his first solo exhibition until he was almost 40 (his earlier works having been exhibited mainly around his home territory of Gisborne and the East Coast region of New Zealand), John Walsh quickly made a name for himself and now exhibits annually in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Mainly self-taught, Walsh’s earliest works took the form of realist portraits of people he knew on the East Coast, executed in the hours when he was not working in various casual, seasonal employments.

In 1989, Walsh was invited to participate in an international mural project in New York and after returning to New Zealand, worked in a number of tertiary institutions. In 1993, he moved with his family to Wellington to an appointment as curator of contemporary Maori art at the National Art Gallery (now Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa) and it was around this time that he arrived at the artistic style for which he is so well-known now. The first such paintings tended to be small and painted on wash backgrounds but as the scale of the works increased, Walsh introduced landscape to the imagery. Some works re-present myths from Maoridom while others depict contemporary incidents he has observed in the newspapers or personally. The protagonists in Walsh’s paintings are often depicted with human bodies and faces of ancestral tikis or manaia (helpers and bringers of knowledge) or as marakihau (mermen). His work is typified by a gentle humour, and a playful interpretation of circumstances.”

Text by Elizabeth Caughey

Walsh was born in 1954 in Tolaga Bay, New Zealand. He is of Aitanga a Hauiti/ New Zealand Irish decent. Largely a self taught artist, Walsh attended Ilam School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury between 1973 and 1974. Walsh lives and works in Wellington.

SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS

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

BIBLIOGRAPHY

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).

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