The Wallace Arts Trust Collection, 1931 – 1996
9 December 2016 – 29 January 2017
A remarkable collection of works by Sir Mountford Tosswill Woollaston now showing at Percy Thomson Gallery, Stratford until the end of January.
Developed and toured by the Wallace Arts Trust with support from Creative New Zealand.
Born in Huinga, rural Taranaki in 1910, long and famously resident in the Nelson district, knighted in 1979 for services to the arts, Woollaston was the veteran of the longest, toughest and best-fought battle for recognition ever won by a New Zealand painter. He led the struggle to gain acceptance for modern art in New Zealand, and through his life and work inspired generations of new artists to follow his example.
In 1995 the James Wallace Arts Trust acquired an unparalleled collection of works of art by Woollaston, then widely acknowledged as New Zealand's greatest living painter. The group of works included paintings and drawings representing high points in the artist's achievement over six decades of his career from 1931 to 1996.
More important masterpieces have been added to the collection since the death of the artist, including his last completed and signed work, the magnificent Male Nude of 1996, which shows that Woollaston was painting at the height of his powers almost to the very end of his long life.
A special feature of the exhibition is the sequence of over 80 studies of 'Erua', a Greymouth schoolboy whom Woollaston employed as a model in the early 1960s. The Wallace Arts Trust acquired 80 of these drawings in 2014. Many of the drawings Toss produced over the two-year period Erua was a model, were reproduced in a book, entitled Erua, in 1966.