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Flying Solo – Paintings by John Walsh

John Walsh - First
we take San Francisco
John Walsh - First we take San Francisco

FLYING SOLO – Paintings by John Walsh
2 May – 13 September 2009 | FREE ENTRY
James Wallace Arts Trust Gallery, TheNewDowse
45 Laings Road Lower Hutt |

Journey into the often eerie, sometimes comic, yet strangely familiar worlds conjured by painter John Walsh. Flying Solo is an exhibition drawn from private collections within the Wellington region, featuring 18 large-scale paintings alongside a number of smaller works.

A painter of liquid skies and fluid landscapes, hybrid creatures and mischievous gods, Walsh intertwines Maori mythology, history and contemporary events with satirical ire. Marakihau (mer-men) and manaia (bird-men helpers/knowledge-bringers) appear alongside human travellers, sleepers, thieves and reporters. These characters interact across vast landscapes, skies, and oceans.

TheNewDowse invited fellow artist, writer and friend John Pule to cast his eye over the works. He says “Walsh uses earth and galaxy to depict quintessential fears of communication, and raises important questions about finding a place in the world - why we must keep fighting to survive, why we must keep caring”, says John Pule.

In the title work, ‘Flying Solo’, a lone figure coasts above a distant horizon. This flight suggests that memory or dreams may be the only place where we can really fly solo, disengaged from the anchors of history, culture and tradition.

For more information and images, and to request an interview with John Walsh, John Pule or Concept Developer Claire Regnault, please contact:



John Walsh
Aitanga a Hauiti / New Zealand Irish
John Walsh was born in Tolaga Bay and was schooled on the East Coast. He briefly attended the Ilam School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University, and subsequently returned to the East Coast where he taught himself to paint by producing ‘Goldiesque’ portraits of local identities. This lead to marae restoration and a number of community arts projects, while he supplemented his income by working as a fisherman, cook, farm worker and jack-of-all-trades. His work with local communities and the Maori artist and writers collective Nga Puna Waihanga lead to a stint at the Gisborne Museum & Arts Centre. From there Walsh moved to Wellington in 1993 to take up a position at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand as inaugural Curator of Contemporary Maori Art.

He had his first solo exhibition at the Janne Land Gallery in Wellington in 1995, and exhibited with her until her closure of the gallery in December 2008. The majority of works included in Flying Solo have previously been exhibited at the Janne Land Gallery.

John Walsh is now a regular and sought-after presence in the dealer gallery network, exhibiting with the John Leech Gallery in Auckland and the Brooke Gifford Gallery in Christchurch. He has participated in many significant solo and group exhibitions in public galleries. In 2007 John Walsh travelled to Antarctica as part of Antarctica New Zealand’s artist-in-residency programme. In 2009 he will go to China as part of a Wellington-Xiamen sister city cultural exchange.

John Pule
John Pule was born in Liku, Niue, and arrived in New Zealand in 1964. He began writing in 1980 after reading the work of Hone Tuwhare and has published poetry including Sonnets to Van Gogh and Providence (1982), Flowers after the Sun (1984) and Bond of Time (1985). He took up painting in 1987 with the encouragement of artist Tony Fomison, his dual interests coming together in the late 1980s in a series of paintings of texts in Nuiean which confronted his audience with evidence of his cultural difference. Since his first return trip to Niue in 1991, Pule has taken an increased interest in the history, mythology and make-up of his country of origin. This is registered in his painting, which now typically takes the form and employs the colour range of Nuiean tapa, and in his novel, The Shark That Ate the Sun: Ko E Mago Ne Kai E La (1992), one of the most significant texts of the immigrant Pacific community.

Free Public Programmes
Pakiwaitara, pūrākau, pakikīrehe - He wiki o kōrero tairitenga
Legends, stories, fables - a week of story telling
27 – 31 JULY 10AM DAILY
Youngsters and their caregivers are invited to join Hutt City Libraries storytellers in John Walsh’s exhibition Flying Solo, for a week of captivating stories written by some of Aotearoa’s leading Maori writers. (Stories are in English, but you’ll learn a little Te Reo along the way!)
Presented in celebration of Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 27 Hōngongoi - 2 Here-turi-kōkā 2009 (Maori Language Week 27 July – 2 August). This year’s theme is "Te Reo i te Hapori - Māori Language in the Community.

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