Rita Angus

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1908, d.1970

Early Morning, Thorndon

  • 1962
  • Watercolour
  • Donated from the Canterbury Public Library Collection, 2001
  • 390 x 570mm
  • 2002/147
  • View on google maps

Rita Angus left Ōtautahi Christchurch in 1954 and at the end of the next year purchased the house that remained her Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington home – a plain kauri cottage nestled into a large garden section at 194A Sydney Street West in Thorndon, which she renamed Fernbank Studio. Accessed by a narrow pathway and concealed from the road behind the foreground houses pictured here, it was described by her friend Frederick Page as “a hidden house with a magnolia tree, one of those places that could turn up in a story [...] [t]here was a touch of magic about it, mystery even, as though one day you could go and it wouldn’t be there.”

(From Here on the Ground, 18 May – 17 November 2024)

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • In 1955 Rita Angus bought a cottage at Sydney Street West in the suburb of Thorndon, Wellington. The houses in this old neighbourhood provided a constant source of imagery in her work for the remainder of her career. Early Morning, Thorndon shows a view overlooking Thorndon roof tops towards Wellington Harbour.

    Angus has simplified the houses into a series of planes, building up the composition and giving it depth. Their forms, however, remain clearly defined by her careful application of paint. Angus’ concern with simplifying forms into geometric planes shows the influence of the French artist Paul Cézanne (1839 -1906).

    Angus was born in Hastings. She studied at the Canterbury College School of Art from 1927 to 1933. She lived and worked in Christchurch until 1955 when she moved to Wellington. In 1958 Angus was awarded an Association of New Zealand Art Societies Fellowship which allowed her to visit England and Europe where she studied old masters as well as contemporary art.

    (Label date unknown)