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Michael Smither

Famed for his paintings of Mt. Taranaki and the Taranaki boulders, Michael Smither’s landscapes have been considered regionalist in approach and comparable to those of artists such as Christopher Perkins and Rita Angus.

Born in New Plymouth in 1939, Smither spent much of his life in Taranaki, lasting only two years at Elam School of Fine Arts before returning home where he started painting biblical scenes set in the Taranaki landscape.

His first exhibition was in 1961 in a ‘Group 60’ Show, a collection of Taranaki artists founded by Don Driver. Alongside his Taranaki landscapes, Smither started painting private domestic scenes, ‘snapshots’ of his children being children and still-life’s of everyday objects. His work is frequently recognised as hard-edged realism with simplified forms, strong directional light and compositional arrangements.

As well as his realist paintings, Smither has also produced wall murals, abstracts, screenprints and sculptures. He is also a noted pianist and composer, elements of which have also surfaced in some of his paintings.

In 1969 he moved the family to Central Otago and in 1970 took up the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in Dunedin. The first major solo exhibition of Smither’s work, “Michael Smither—an introduction”, was curated by Jim and Mary Barr as a touring exhibition for the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in 1984. In 2005 Auckland Art Gallery curated the touring survey exhibition “The Wonder Years”.

In 2004 Michael Smither was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the arts, and in 2010 he received the Arts Foundation Award for Patronage donation from Gus & Irene Fisher.

Smither currently lives and works in the Coromandel.

- images courtesy