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Rare and Unrivalled Beauty

Ashburton Art Gallery - Austen Deans 'Kea Hut and Mt Sefton' 1962
8 Aug 2022 to 2 Oct 2022
8 August - 2 October 2022
Prize-winning landscape paintings from the Kelliher Art Trust Collection
Event type: 
Open Daily 10am – 4pm | Wednesday 10am – 7pm
Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum 329 West Street, Ashburton, 7700


Thirty-two paintings from the Kelliher Art Trust Collection South Island touring schedule for 2021-2023 will be exhibited at the Gallery from 8 August – 2 October. The exhibition, curated by Kelliher Art Trust Curator Christopher Johnstone, is comprised of Kelliher prize winners, subsequent purchases, and recently commissioned works by the Trust. The exhibition features works by renowned New Zealand artists including Austen Deans, Colin Wheeler, Douglas Badcock, Dick Frizzell, and Michael Smither.

The Kelliher Art Trust Collection

The Collection was started in 1956 by visionary businessman and philanthropist Sir Henry Kelliher. A longstanding patron of the arts, Sir Henry established the Kelliher Art Competition, “to capture the grandeur of the New Zealand scene in all its changes through the seasons”, as he described it. The objective of the competition was to encourage realistic portrayals of New Zealand’s landscapes and the ways of life of its people for the entire world to see.

Although the traditional style and subject matter challenged some artists and critics who were inclined towards modernist paintings, the Kelliher, as it soon was called, quickly became New Zealand’s premiere art event. The prize for the winning painting by a New Zealand artist was a sum not far off the country’s average annual wage at the time.  The Kelliher Art Competition, later called the Kelliher Art Award, was held almost annually until 1977, by which time it had widened its scope to include portrait and genre painting. In recent years, the collection has been updated by occasional purchases of landscape paintings by more recent established artists. From 2015, the Trust has annually commissioned a painting by an emerging landscape painter as a way of honouring Sir Henry’s original objective to encourage the painting of New Zealand landscapes.

Written by

Ashburton Art Gallery and Museum

19 Jul 2022