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Arts/Culture ian 4/29/2014

Over sixty works by expatriate New Zealand artist Dennis K. Turner (1924-2011) take pride of place at Rotorua Museum until June 8.

An accomplished painter and illustrator, Turner was fascinated by subjects that described the experience of living in New Zealand. He illustrated ‘kiwi bloke’ Barry Crump’s books, made murals for the trade unions, celebrated Maori culture & traditions and depicted the colourful life of the shearing gang. His collected works demonstrate what it meant to be a kiwi artist in the mid-twentieth century.

As a conscientious objector during World War II, Turner showed early on that he was a renegade describing himself as an “unrepentant New Zealander”. This was again illustrated in 1951 when he became the only New Zealand artist to have ever been arrested and convicted for painting on a Sunday.

In the 1960s Turner immigrated to the United Kingdom in order to make a living from his art. He returned briefly in 1992 to Wanganui to undertake the Sarjeant Gallery, Tylee Cottage Residency. As a result he produced one of his last major bodies of work called the Tiki Series. Made up of over 50 watercolour works on paper these paintings re-ignited the debate over issues of cultural appropriation and cemented Turner’s place as a significant New Zealand artist.

A Continuous Line: The Art of Dennis K. Turner is being toured by the Gus Fisher Gallery at The University of Auckland.

Entry is included with Museum admission. Adults $20, seniors $18 and children $8. Entry for Rotorua residents is free with appropriate ID.

If you are visiting Rotorua, Rydges Rotorua can look after all your accommodation needs.


Image: Dennis K. Turner. The Fleece No.1, 1960. Rotorua Museum. Courtesy of Sam Hartnett