Trevor Moffitt

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1936, d.2006

Line Up

  • Purchased, 1970
  • Oil on hardboard
  • 921 x 1220mm
  • 70/25
  • 1969

Trevor Moffitt was almost as keen on fishing as he was on painting, and at the time this work was made, in 1969, he could often be found at the mouth of the Rakaia River after he finished his day’s work as a high school art teacher. Line Up, with its droll view of three burly men in waders from behind, looking out across the river at their counterparts, was part of a series of forty seven works known variously as ‘the Salmon Fishing series’ and ‘the Big Fishermen’. They reflected Moffitt’s interest in depicting figures in the landscape and his commitment to ordinary narratives, the everyday rituals of life. He once said of the subject: “It’s like a medieval tournament with the fishermen lining up on either side of the river. I had to paint them chiefly from memory – fishermen are a tough lot and if you sat down and started drawing them they wouldn’t appreciate it. If I did drawings there – to capture someone’s stance, for instance – it would be on the back of a cigarette packet. I wouldn’t dare take a camera to the river mouth.”

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

earlier labels about this work
  • 1969 Comeback Special 27 August – 6 November 2016

    Trevor Moffitt’s painting Line Up almost didn’t make it into the Gallery’s collection in 1970. At this time Muir was required to take the painting (and indeed any paintings he wished to acquire) to a Christchurch City Council meeting where councillors could view the work and approve or decline it. Councillor Stillwell commented that “the artist was a keen fisherman. His picture would bring humour to the gallery, and Mr Moffitt could be assured that his picture would be worth $200 for advertising a brand of rubber waders.” Thankfully Councillor Hay (later Mayor Hamish Hay) had faith in Muir, stating the “the committee had approved the recommendations of the gallery’s director and had confidence in his selections.”