Austen A Deans

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1915, d.2011

Camp in the Kowai

  • Presented by Christchurch City Council in memory of former Town Clerk Mr H. S. Feast OBE, 1961
  • Oil on canvas
  • 980 x 1030mm
  • 69/137
  • 1952

For Austen Deans, painting was an expression of his love of the outdoors and, in particular, the Canterbury high country. Born at Riccarton House, Christchurch in 1915, he grew up on the family farm near Sheffield in North Canterbury (and near Kowai, the subject of this 1952 painting). He trained at the Canterbury College School of Art between 1934 and 1938, where he continued his interest in the outdoors through membership of the College tramping club. He once said that he had 'rather wished to be a mountain guide', but his mother dissuaded him from that early ambition. Though he loved sculpture, he specialised in painting because it allowed him to work outdoors rather than being tied to a city studio. Deans was the last of a generation of painters, which also included Doris Lusk and Bill Sutton, whose work was strongly focused on the Canterbury landscape. He is most well-known for his paintings of Mt Peel and the surrounding area, where he lived and worked for over 60 years. 'It was really my attraction to the mountains that started me painting' he said, 'and it's never left me'.

(Turn, Turn, Turn: A Year in Art, 27 July 2019 – 8 March 2020)

earlier labels about this work