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NZ icons show exhibition in Wellington

September 23, 2004

Two 20th Century NZ icons show exhibition in Wellington

Two of New Zealand’s finest 20th century art personalities, Juliet Peter and Roy Cowan, are having the best of their works shown at an exhibition in Wellington from this weekend to the end of October.

Peter and Cowan were pioneering artists, printmakers and potters in the Wellington scene spanning six decades.

Their Hats to High Rise exhibition, which opens at the Ferner Galleries in Wellington Sunday, is a testament and tribute to their historic work.

``Juliet and Roy were two of the most important contributors to New Zealand’s 20th century art history,’’ Ferner Galleries managing director Helene Phillips said today.

``Their works are living treasures and Wellington people are fortunate to view their works in this exhibition.’’

The pair married in 1952 and were major contributors to the art scene in New Zealand in the later half of last century.

They were major fixtures of Wellington‘s art landscape from the 1950s. The Cowan-Peter partnership was synonymous with modernism in Wellington on the late 1940s and 1950s.

Cowan’s first exhibition was held at the French Maid Coffee shop on Lambton Quay and he and Peter exhibited at Helen Hitching’s gallery in Bond St which is credited with being the first modernist dealer gallery in New Zealand.

They helped produce the NZ Potter magazine in the late 1950s and played a key role in the fostering of studio pottery for over a decade.

Cowan was commissioned to create a large ceramic sculpture for the foyer of the Reserve Bank building in Auckland in 1982. He was awarded the CNZM for his contribution to arts fours years ago.

Cowan has acted as commissioner for the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and the Department of Foreign Affairs. He has exhibited widely in New Zealand and overseas, with works in public and private collections both nationally and internationally.

Peter, 90 last weekend, was a Canterbury College School of Art graduate in 1940. She illustrated the School Journal and primary bulletins for years. She studied art in London in the 1950s. She became a great friend of well known NZ artist Rita Angus from their time at Art School in Christchurch.

In the 1960s, they regularly visited the Bolton Street Cemetery in Wellington to record and draw the partial relocation and destruction of the site which was making way for the motorway.


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