Rose Zeller

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1891, d.1975


  • c. 1925
  • Oil on board
  • Presented by Henry Maitland Tomlinson, 1975
  • 308 x 467mm
  • 89/206

Rose Zeller studied and taught at the Canterbury College School of Art in Ōtautahi Christchurch before becoming a wartime relieving teacher in 1915 at the Dunedin School of Art. From 1924 she taught at the Christchurch Technical School an institute often overshadowed by the better-known School of Art. Zeller brought her uninhibited painting style and distinctive palette to this quintessentially Te Tai Poutini West Coast industrial scene. The location, with its heavy machinery and distinctive fortified structure, is thought to be Charming Creek, from where extracted coal was transported along a narrow bush railway.

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

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • Rather than focusing on the South Island’s majestic mountains, a subject popular with earlier generations of painters, Rose Zeller presents a grimy industrial yard. A lone figure is dominated by the scene that surrounds him as he toils with what may be a pile of coal. Industrial scenes such as this were popular with other New Zealand modernist artists such as Rita Angus, Bill Sutton and John Weeks. Zeller studied at the Canterbury College School of Art in the 1910s then taught at the King Edward Technical College in Dunedin before settling back in Christchurch in 1924. She taught art at the Christchurch Technical School where she is known to have actively encouraged women students from working-class backgrounds to study art and culture.

    (March 2018)