Exhibition

Ivy Fife Retrospective

16 February – 18 March 1977

An exhibition organised by and held at the Robert McDougall Art Gallery to celebrate the life and work of Canterbury painter Ivy Fife

This was a retrospective exhibition of Christchurch painter Ivy Fife. As the exhibition came to completion soon after her death it became a memorial of the name and reputation of the artist.

Ivy Fife was born in Christchurch in 1905. She was a contemporary of Olivia Spencer Bower and Russell Clark almost to the year. In 1920 Fife enrolled at the Canterbury College School of Fine Art, where the staff then consisted of Cecil Kelly, Archibald Nicholl, F. A. Shurrock, Richard Wallwork and Leonard Booth. Her association with Art School which began with her entry as a student lasted for thirty-nine years until her retirement in 1959 as she stayed on as an instructor after she had completed her own studies.

The items selected for the retrospective date from the late 1930s and include works in gouache, oils, watercolours, ink and wash, and pencil drawings. From that time onwards, she worked consistently on portraits, landscapes, flower paintings, old buildings, and commissioned portraits which she greatly enjoyed doing.

Her work was shown frequently at annual art society exhibitions at Christchurch, Dunedin, Invercargill and Nelson, as well as the Gallery of the New Zealand Academy in Wellington. 1958 saw Fife included in the exhibition Eight New Zealand Painters along with W. A. Sutton (Christchurch), Milan Mrkusich (Auckland), Rita Angus (Christchurch), Clifford Murray (Dunedin), Michael Nicholson, Sydney Thompson (Christchurch), and Dennis Knight Turner (Auckland), organised by the Auckland City Art Gallery. Each artist was represented by five paintings.

Fife was a concise, clear, and to the point, type of person, highly perceptive and totally immersed in her painting which made up almost her total way of life. Her attributes were clarity of vision, good draughtsmanship, and a refined and harmonious sense of colour, to which she added varying degrees of vitality and atmosphere. As a member and Council Member of the Canterbury Society of Arts from 1949 to 1966, and a member of the Advisory Committee of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, she played her own, quiet, yet significant, role in the development of the arts in Christchurch and Canterbury.

Related

Exhibition

40 out of 40: Canterbury Painters 1958-1998

Forty works from the permanent collection.

Collection
Portrait of William Sykes Baverstock OBE F.R.S.A.
Ivy G Fife Portrait of William Sykes Baverstock OBE F.R.S.A.

Portrait of William Sykes Baverstock. Born in Norwich England, Baverstock came to New Zealand in 1901 with his father the lithographer William Baverstock Senior. Baverstock began working in the lithography department of the Weekly Press in 1910 and also attended Canterbury College School of Art part-time. In 1920 he became a working member of the Canterbury Society of Arts (CSA) and a foundation member of the Group in 1927. In 1943 he became Secretary Treasurer of the CSA, a ful -time position he held until 1959. In 1948 Baverstock was invited to become honorary Curator of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery and performed this part-time role until 1960 when he was appointed the Gallery's first director. Awarded OBE 1968 he retired later that year as Director of the Robert McDougall Art Gallery.

Collection
Queen’s Visit
Ivy G Fife Queen’s Visit

Many artists have depicted this city’s urban spaces, including Ivy Fife, who studied at the Canterbury College School of Art from 1920 to 1931 and taught there from 1936 until 1959. Fife’s studio apartment was in the nearby St. Elmo Courts, from where the bird’s-eye view was painted.

Fife also captured the clamour of Christchurch’s railway station on Moorhouse Avenue during the new Queen’s royal visit. Opened in 1877, the station had been a handsome structure, but by 1954 its Venetian gothic arches were under lean-to additions and its brick warmth covered in paint. Demolition came five years later; its replacement, a landmark modernist building, was itself demolished after the Christchurch earthquakes.

(Above ground, 2015)

Collection
Porters Pass, West Canterbury
Ivy G Fife Porters Pass, West Canterbury

This work is from the Canterbury Public Library’s collection of original art works. This collection was started by Ron O’Reilly (1914-1982), who was appointed City Librarian in 1951. He had a keen interest in philosophy, literature and New Zealand art and developed personal friendships with many artists including Doris Lusk, Olivia Spencer Bower, Colin McCahon and Toss Woollaston. During his time in Christchurch he was deeply involved in the local art scene. He arranged many exhibitions in the library one such being McCahon’s The Wake in 1959. He liaised with other galleries in arranging the loans of paintings for other exhibitions, and for a period was art critic for the Press and picture buyer for the CSA Gallery. In 1953 the Library started its hire service of framed art prints, a selection of 80 reproductions which was confined to works by artists of importance in the history of painting, both old and modern masters. Shortly afterwards the Library’s collection was augmented by two substantial gifts, one from the Redfern Gallery, London of 34 original lithographs by British artists and the other, 39 prints from French cultural funds. In 1955 the City Council approved extension of the picture loan service to include original art works by local artists. The maximum purchase price was to be 19 guineas and because of this limitation the artists were often persuaded to sell their work at reduced prices. The prospect of having one’ s work on such public display was also an inducement to the artist to sell at a reasonable price. By 1960, 50 original works had been acquired. The paintings were selected by Ron O’Reilly at exhibitions, galleries and by visiting the artists in their homes.

In 1981, when purchasing ceased, the collection consisted of 297 works. 155 of these were gifted to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in 2001. Adapted from “Library Treasures: New Zealand art works from the collection of the Canterbury Public Library, exhibited at the CSA Gallery, 9 February to 5 March 1989”.

Collection
The Long Lookout
Ivy G Fife The Long Lookout

'Tu-Te-Raki-Whanoa, the son of Aoraki, is the atua [demi-god] who shapes the wrecked waka to ready it for people. His first great task is to defeat the south-easterly winds roaring along the side of the wreck. He invents peninsulas. He rakes all the rubbish of the wreckage and piles it up like a gigantic break water. Thus you have the Canterbury Plains and a sheltered place for his next invention, Whakaraupō [Lyttelton Harbour] and Akaroa Harbour. He then depresses his heel and creates Waihora [Lake Ellesmere], later claimed by the exploring ancestor, Rākaihautū, as Te Kete ika o Te Rākaihautū [the fish basket of Rākaihautū].' —Sir Tipene O’Regan

(He Rau Maharataka Whenua: A Memory of Land, 17 September 2016 – 18 February 2017)

Collection
For Sale
Ivy G Fife For Sale

This work is from the Canterbury Public Library’s collection of original art works. This collection was started by Ron O’Reilly (1914-1982), who was appointed City Librarian in 1951. He had a keen interest in philosophy, literature and New Zealand art and developed personal friendships with many artists including Doris Lusk, Olivia Spencer Bower, Colin McCahon and Toss Woollaston. During his time in Christchurch he was deeply involved in the local art scene. He arranged many exhibitions in the library one such being McCahon’s The Wake in 1959. He liaised with other galleries in arranging the loans of paintings for other exhibitions, and for a period was art critic for the Press and picture buyer for the CSA Gallery. In 1953 the Library started its hire service of framed art prints, a selection of 80 reproductions which was confined to works by artists of importance in the history of painting, both old and modern masters. Shortly afterwards the Library’s collection was augmented by two substantial gifts, one from the Redfern Gallery, London of 34 original lithographs by British artists and the other, 39 prints from French cultural funds. In 1955 the City Council approved extension of the picture loan service to include original art works by local artists. The maximum purchase price was to be 19 guineas and because of this limitation the artists were often persuaded to sell their work at reduced prices. The prospect of having one’s work on such public display was also an inducement to the artist to sell at a reasonable price. By 1960, 50 original works had been acquired. The paintings were selected by Ron O’Reilly at exhibitions, galleries and by visiting the artists in their homes.

In 1981, when purchasing ceased, the collection consisted of 297 works. 155 of these were gifted to the Robert McDougall Art Gallery in 2001. Adapted from “Library Treasures: New Zealand art works from the collection of the Canterbury Public Library, exhibited at the CSA Gallery, 9 February to 5 March 1989”.

Notes
On the level

On the level

A chilly trip to the mountains to identify Ivy Fife's level crossing