In 1921 John Weeks began studying at the Canterbury College School of Art and this clay pit, along the Port Hills Road in Christchurch, was a place to which the tutors often took their students. Showing a growing interest in abstract forms, New Zealand artists in the 1920s and 1930s were fascinated by clay or rock faces where the subtle shapes in the landform provided an interesting range of geometric shapes.
Weeks was born in England, and came to New Zealand with his parents in 1892. He studied art part-time in Auckland but in 1911 left for England. World War I saw Weeks in France, serving with the New Zealand Medical Corps. Between 1921 and 1928 he studied in Christchurch, Edinburgh and Paris and travelled extensively in Europe and North Africa. In 1929 Weeks returned to New Zealand. He taught at the Elam School of Art in Auckland from 1930 to 1954 and was awarded an OBE in 1958.
Sentinels is a rare, early work by Thames, Coromandel-born Rhona Haszard. It shows her clear artistic vision and ability to make a sensitive, painterly response to a specific location. Haszard painted this impressionistic coastal landscape while at Canterbury College School of Art, where she distinguished herself as a star pupil between 1919 and 1924.
This work was first shown in the Canterbury Society of Arts’ annual exhibition in 1923. Haszard left New Zealand two years later and began to make her mark as an artist in Europe, exhibiting in France, England and Egypt, where she moved in 1927 and died tragically young in 1931.