Louise Henderson

France / Aotearoa New Zealand, b.1902, d.1994

December 26th

  • Dame Louise Henderson Collection presented by the McKegg Family, 1999
  • Oil on canvas
  • 1250 x 1700mm
  • 99/75

Henderson’s interest in the female figure, seen in her early cubist works and in the studies she made of refugee women and children while in the Middle East, remained a constant in her work. Between 1955 and 2001 she regularly visited her daughter Diane in Rarotonga and gained a growing appreciation of its culture. Back in Aotearoa New Zealand, she created a series of images depicting women within bush or semi-tropical settings.Here, from a neighbouring property, she has painted two women she observed resting under trees on Boxing Day, their faces glowing with soft green light from the canopy above. Painting across cultures, Henderson was in undeniably problematic territory, and some works from this series were described by critics as “exercises in exotic escapism”. It is also true that Henderson’s interest in learning about and engaging with different cultures was genuine and active, and something she maintained throughout her life.

(Louise Henderson: From Life, 27 June – 11 October 2020)