Doris Lusk

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1916, d.1990

Onekaka Estuary

  • Lawrence Baigent / Robert Erwin bequest, 2003
  • Pencil and watercolour
  • 455 x 525 x 24mm
  • 2003/67
  • 1966
  • View on google maps

Built in the 1920s to load pig iron bound for Australia the nearby ironworks, the Onekaka wharf in Golden had begun decaying long before Lusk first saw it in By then, it was no longer connected to the sea and found its dramatic break at the low tide mark irresistible: “It was almost a geometric situation, the way it protruded through the quiet surf.” Years later, Lusk recalled how she had set out determined not to paint the wharf, only to return with a sketchbook full of little else. The interplay between light and shadow, structure and fluidity, strength and decay intrigued and she would paint it almost exclusively over thefive years, in watercolours executed on the spot and a series of brooding oil paintings. This rapidly worked study, observed at a greater distance from the wharf most of Lusk’s Onekaka works, emphasises the estuary’s luminous quality and constantly changing tides.

(Doris Lusk: Practical Visionary, 4 June – 30 October 2016)