Great New Zealand artist and a lovely man.
I had the privilege of meeting this most gentle and funny of men from time to time while I was living in North Otago and was always impressed by his self-depricating humour and the devotion he had to his art. Both in my as in the best girlfriend's ever house there are prints of Colin's work strewn around the walls and furniture, as his pictures epitomise the towns and landscapes we have grown to love so much.
Colin Wheeler was born in 1919 in Dunedin, the closest New Zealand comes to a copy of Oxbridge with its central, domineering university and large and unruly student body. He went to the Canterbury School of Art and then to the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts in London. In 1951 he became the Master of Arts and Waitaki Boys High School in Oamaru but resigned from the post 18 years later to devote himself full time to his art.
He takes his inspiration from the countryside that surrounds him and the town he lives in. He published books chronicling the old sheep stations of New Zealand and travelled together with his wife for months around the farms of New Zealand, sketching and painting these remnants of New Zealand's pioneering times.
The first time I was exposed to his craft was during his exhibition of twelve large-panel townscapes of Oamaru and I was just blown away. His eye for detail, together with his use of colour that leaves his objects looking like they are drenched in the unforgiven midday sun of the South Island made a big impression on me. Unfortunately his works are now outside my price range, but his prints are good enough to cheer me up.
It's a shame that his work is rarely displayed outside New Zealand.
For a nice collection of works online check out: