Canterbury Vignette Series: Grace Butler

10 June – 13 August 2000

An exhibition of one of New Zealand's most important alpine landscape painters.

For Grace Butler (1886–1962), the mountain landscape was the most pre-eminent force in her painting, especially the alpine divide around Arthur's Pass.

She first visited the area in 1916 with her husband Guy Butler. They returned in 1917, camping under canvas opposite an old roadman's hut that they later purchased. It was on this visit that Butler made her first paintings of the Arthur's Pass environ, a place that was to have a special significance for her for the rest of her life.

Over the next 40 years she would return annually to paint in both summer and winter months. Often conditions were less than desirable to paint out-of-doors, but it was the various contrasts of light and weather conditions that she was attracted to and keen to capture. These made her own comfort unimportant.

The products of these constant visits were regularly exhibited at art society exhibitions not only in Christchurch, but also in Dunedin, Auckland and Wellington.

Apart from the exhibition of her work, Grace Butler was never one to draw attention to herself, remaining modest and even self-effacing about her considerable achievements in painting.

Born in Invercargill in 1886, Grace Butler gained her training as an artist at Napier Technical and Art Schools from 1903–7, then at Canterbury College of School of Art from 1910 to 1914.

In 1915 she became a working member of the Canterbury Society of Arts where she exhibited regularly until 1960 and developing a sound reputation as a professional artist.

Although she never travelled, she was represented occasionally in exhibitions beyond New Zealand, including the Empire Exhibition, Wembley (1924); The New Zealand Artists Exhibition (1925); Grosvenor Gallery, Sydney (1928) and at the Festival of Britain, 1951.

By the year of her death, in 1962, Grace Butler had established a place in Canterbury as one of the region's most important landscape painters of the twentieth century.

The exhibition comprises paintings done between 1916 and 1955, most of which will have works with an alpine focus.

The Vignette Series:

John Gibb (1831–1909) 5 February – 5 March
Alfred Walsh (1859–1916) 12 February – 12 March
Charles Kidson (1867–1908) 25 March – 30 April
Leonard Booth (1879–1977) 13 May – 18 June
Grace Butler (1870–1962) 10 June – 6 August
Archibald Nicoll (1886–1953) 1 July – 6 August
Richard (1882–1955) and Elizabeth Wallwork (1884–1969) 26 August – 24 September

Neil Roberts

This exhibition was held at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in the Botanic Gardens.