Florence Akins

Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1906, d.2012

The Metalworker

  • 1932
  • Linocut
  • Gifted by the artist, 1997
  • 145 x 68mm
  • 97/01

Florence Akins attended the Canterbury College School of Art in the 1920s alongside her lifelong friend Chrystabel Aitken. Her teacher, Francis Shurrock, taught Florence printmaking and was an important role model for the young student. She described him as “an outstanding teacher [who] taught much else besides technique”. Only a handful of Florence’s linocuts are known to have survived, including The Metalworker. Florence collected prints by her contemporaries, and the Gallery has benefited from her gift of works by Francis Shurrock, Bill Sutton and Alexander McLintock, among others.

Ink on Paper: Aotearoa New Zealand Printmakers of the Modern Era, 11 February – 28 May 2023

Exhibition History

earlier labels about this work
  • The Moon and the Manor House, 12 November 2021 – 1 May 2022

    This charming work, showing a craft worker hammering at a workbench, represents two of Florence Akins’s many areas of expertise and interest, metalworking and linocut printmaking, which was then undergoing a revival. Akins’s connection to the Canterbury College School of Art lasted many decades. She started as a 14-year-old junior student in 1920 and began teaching drawing and plant-form design part-time, in 1927. After graduating with a Diploma in Fine Arts in 1931, she taught full-time at the school from 1936 to 1969, in subjects that also included embroidery and tapestry. She introduced weaving to the curriculum in 1946.

  • The linocut was a popular medium in Britain during the 1920s and 1930s. At this time it was also used by a number of Canterbury artists, including Florence Akins, who taught linocut at the Canterbury College School of Art. In The Metalworker Akins uses the stark contrasts of black and white to convey the fall of light on the figure. The subject is possibly one of her students. Akins was born in Christchurch and studied at the Canterbury College School of Art under Francis Shurrock and James Johnstone during the 1920s. She had a long association with the school; appointed to a part-time teaching position in 1927, she taught there until the end of 1969. Akins has worked with a wide range of media, including fibre arts such as embroidery, tapestry and weaving.

    (Label date unknown)