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Rita Angus: An artist’s life

Rita Angus: An artist’s life

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Media Release
For immediate use: 7 April 2008

Rita Angus: An artist’s life will be launched in Wellington on Tuesday 8 April, 2008
Published by Te Papa Press, $69.99 ISBN 978-1-877385-39-1

Rita Angus: An artist’s life
by Jill Trevelyan

Te Papa Press publishes the first and only biography of one of New Zealand’s best-loved and most significant 20th century artists to mark the 100th anniversary of her birth.

Born Henrietta Catherine Angus in March 1908, Rita Angus’s role as an artist was clear from an early age ‘Rita drew as soon as she could hold a pencil,’ said her sister Jean, ‘and never stopped’.

The oldest of seven children, Angus studied art first at Palmerston North Girls’ High, then at the Canterbury College School of Art, and the Elam School of Art and Design in Auckland. She lived in Christchurch for much of her adult life, and later in Wellington where the cottage she owned and painted in until her death in 1970 is today run as an artists’ residency through Massey University and the Thorndon Trust.

A New Zealand pioneer of a ‘modern’ style of painting, Angus’s work is more popular today than ever. Her 1936 painting of a tiny railway station in Canterbury hill country, Cass, was recently voted ‘New Zealand’s greatest painting’ by television viewers.

In completing this biography, the first and only to have been published on the artist to-date, author Jill Trevelyan drew on newly available archives and letters.

Archives in the Alexander Turnbull Library and family papers recently returned to New Zealand reveal the stories behind many of Angus’s iconic artworks, and give a fuller picture of this articulate and forthright woman.

Trevelyan is also the co-curator of an exhibition, Rita Angus: Life and Vision, which will open at Te Papa in July and will tour nationwide.


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