Rita Angus (1908-1970) is a much-loved figure in New Zealand; in a 2006 opinion poll her 1936 painting of the tiny railway station Cass (on the TranzAlpine Christchurch to Greymouth line) on the South Island was voted the most popular painting in the country. Her enduring landscapes and portraits (including a remarkable group of self-portraits) emerged at a time when artists could not earn a living solely from their art and commercial galleries barely existed. Determined, however, not to compromise her work, Angus pioneered a new, national art creating a hitherto absent artistic identity for New Zealand. Despite this her work has never been the focus of a monographic exhibition outside of New Zealand. This was going to change thanks to an exhibition at the Royal Academy in London in partnership with the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington which was postponed because of the COVID 19 pandemic. The rescheduled exhibition will open in Wellington in December this year but will no longer travel to London. The lecture will present an overview of her remarkable life and work
Adrian Locke joined the Royal Academy of Arts in 2001 having completed a PhD at the University of Essex. Since then he has worked on a wide variety of exhibitions at the RA. In 2018 he curated The Art of Diplomacy: Brazilian Modernism Painted for War at the Sala Brasil in London for which he was awarded the Ordem do Rio Branco for services to Brazilian culture. He co-curated the forthcoming exhibition on Rita Angus with Jill Trevelyan which will open in Wellington, New Zealand at the end of this year.
John-Paul Stonard, a writer and art historian. His book Creation. Art Since the Beginning, a new history of art from cave painting to contemporary, will be published by Bloomsbury in Autumn this year
Angus, Rutu, 1951
Oil on canvas, 71.5 x 56 cm
Te Papa, Wellington
Courtesy of The Estate of Rita Angus