The paintings and prints of Juliet Peter
24 August – 23 September 2001
The Michael Hirschfeld Gallery
Outdoor People is a timely celebration of Juliet Peter’s work, coinciding as it does with the exhibition Rita Angus:
‘live to paint and paint to live’. Juliet Peter and Angus formed a lasting friendship, which dated from their time at
Art School in Christchurch. In the 1960s, they regularly visited the Bolton Street Cemetery to record and draw the
partial relocation and destruction of the site to make way for the motorway.
Now in her 80s, Juliet Peter has long been a fixture in the Wellington art scene. She and her artist husband Roy Cowan
were central figures in the 1950s and 60s, inspiring many artists to do what was then considered nearly impossible – to
make their livings as practising artists.
Juliet Peter’s deep love of the outdoors, and connection with the capital’s geography, can be seen in the works in this
exhibition – from the watercolours of the 1940s to later prints and paintings of her bush-clad Ngaio home and the
Wellington port and city. Curator Mary-Jane Duffy writes of her paintings and prints: “They are songs to the land and
the people who work it, to the bush-clad hills of Ngaio, to her laughing husband, the insects of the grasses, a long
line of cats, the warmth of home. They are songs to a full life lived in the Outdoors.” The artist was born in 1915 and
grew up in rural Canterbury. Receiving her education in England, she studied at the Canterbury College School of Art
from 1935, and exhibited as part of the Christchurch ‘Group’ with friends Rita Angus, Doris Lusk and Olivia Spencer
Bower. Since 1945, she has been based in Wellington, interrupted only by a few sojourns to England. In Wellington, she
worked as an illustrator, including on the School Journal. In the 50s she and Roy Cowan began making pottery and prints
from their home in Ngaio, supplying a market hungry for New Zealand craft. They exhibited in artist-run spaces and
advocated a regional gallery for the city.
A limited edition tribute publication accompanying the exhibition gives a fascinating insight into the Wellington art
scene of the 50s and 60s, and the way in which Juliet Peter continued to create fresh and individual work which resisted
art world fashions and ‘isms’.
Outdoor People – The paintings and prints of Juliet Peter is presented within the programme 360 – a full perspective on
Wellington Art, which is generously sponsored by Designworks. City Gallery Wellington is managed by the Wellington
Museums Trust with major funding from the Wellington City Council. ENDS.