Doris Lusk

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1916, d.1990

Canterbury Plains From Cashmere Hills

Doris Lusk’s landscapes often take in an elevated view, placing her at the head of a valley, looking down with hawk eyes across a complex, spreading scene. The whole is surveyed, absorbed and brought together through structural reconfiguration, simplification and reframing, often beneath a distant horizon. Contrasting juxtaposed elements here – dry foothills and green valley, or foreground pines and distant morning haze – are combined to become a generous, contemplative whole. Lusk was part of a circle of artists including Colin McCahon, Rita Angus and Leo Bensemann, and is recognised for having made a distinctive, deeply personal contribution to New Zealand painting.

(As Time Unfolds, 5 December 2020 – 7 March 2021)

earlier labels about this work
  • Bill Sutton once commented that “on the Canterbury Plains you don’t look up and down but from side to side”, which seems entirely appropriate for this vast landscape painting of the plains by his friend Doris Lusk.

    In the vast emptiness, 8 January - 21 August 2016

  • This view from the Summit Road above Christchurch looks west across the Canterbury Plains to the Southern Alps. By using an elevated viewpoint, Doris Lusk has emphasised the structure of the rounded hills broken up by small gullies, and captured the broad expanse of the Canterbury Plains. She has simplified the landscape to its basic elements, placing an emphasis on the underlying structure of the valley rather than on what occupies the land. In this approach Lusk was influenced by the paintings of her contemporary, Colin McCahon (1919 -1987), who stayed with her and her family in 1948. Born in Dunedin, Lusk spent her infancy in Scotland before returning to New Zealand in 1920. In 1933 she enrolled at the King Edward Technical College in Dunedin to study art. 1936 saw her first exhibition in Dunedin. In 1943 she moved to Christchurch. She taught at the School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury from 1966 to 1981. Lusk travelled to Europe and the United States. She died in Christchurch. (Label date unknown)