Culture, Visual Arts and Crafts
Murray Ball, Cliff Whiting, Colin McCahon, Rita Angus, David Low
The New Zealand painting and sketching tradition dates from early European settlement. Before the camera became commonplace, artists recorded the realities of the land and its people on canvas. This developed into a strong landscape-painting tradition. Painters adapted in various ways to the New Zealand environment, particularly its brilliant light. Frances Hodgkins was the most internationally successful New Zealand artist of the first half of the 20th century. Since then painters such as Toss Woollaston, Rita Angus, and Colin McCahon have brought New Zealand painting into its own. Maori painter Ralph Hotere is one of the country’s most highly acclaimed contemporary artists. Cartooning is another strong visual art in New Zealand; David Low and Murray Ball are the best known of many fine cartoonists.
New Zealand also has a strong handicraft tradition, with many artisans producing jewelry, pottery, blown glass, loom-woven textiles, and other works that blur craft and art. Traditional Maori crafts such as woodcarving have immense cultural significance. The most stunning examples of Maori woodcarving are in the marae, or communal meetinghouses, where every carved wall panel has a symbolic significance. Contemporary Maori woodcarvers, notably Cliff Whiting, blend traditional and modern forms.
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