Respected New Zealand artist Eldred Wisdom’s exhibition “Recent Works” starts on 17th September 2018 and will run until 29th September 2018 at Harry Maddox Jewellers, Main Road Kati Kati.
I was asked by an artist friend of mine to interview an artist friend of hers who was going to be having an exhibition at the Harry Maddox Jewellers Gallery in Kati Kati.
I rang him to make an appointment and a few days later met him at his home in Katikati. The artist I met was Eldred Wisdom. Eldred is a quietly spoken gentleman whom I discovered is very humble. He asked me questions about myself and asked to see photos of my work and then started telling me about other wonderful artists he knew.
Eldred was interested in art from an early age. ‘I was good at art at school,’ he told me, but he didn’t go to art school until 1970 when he was 28 years of age. The school was the Ilam School of Fine Arts at Canterbury University where he gained a Diploma in Fine Arts and Painting with Honours.
Before becoming an artist, Eldred worked as a trainee fashion designer at Lane Walker Rudkin in Christchurch. He had a flair for fashion and showed so much promise his father took him to Britain and contacted famous fashion designer Sir Norman Hartnell, who designed the dresses the Queen wore at her wedding and coronation. After looking at pictures of several of Eldred’s dress designs Hartnell offered him a job as a trainee designer.
Unfortunately, Eldred’s mother became very ill before he was due to start work and he had to return to New Zealand. After her tragic death he returned to London and while working as a junior designer with the Jean Allen Fashion House Eldred experienced what he called, ‘his major triumph in fashion.’
He was invited to a dress rehearsal of a fashion show that was being held by the London Fashion House Group that included one of his designs. He later learnt the dress was viewed by the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret who attended the final performance of the show.
When is father’s health began to deteriorate he again returned to New Zealand. By now he had decided he would rather be an artist than a fashion designer and went to art school.
Getting back to his art, I asked Eldred if it had changed much over the years.No, it was abstracts right from the start really,’ he said. ‘I think I have tried to get more minimal.’
I responded, ‘it certainly looks like you have been successful in achieving your goal.’ ‘Well yes and no,’ he said. ‘In certain respects, but not financially, not commercially.’
In an artist statement Eldred gave me to read, I noted that Australian writer Matthew Green, among many others, had written numerous accolades about Eldred and his work. For example: “Eldred’s paintings cannot but have a profound influence upon the viewer and a wider audience should be given the chance to experience both the tranquillity and action of these extraordinary works.” He also wrote, “He has not exhibited widely for the simple reason that at heart he is not self-promoting”.
Another accolade came from the Queen’s Senior Lady in Waiting, Lady Susan Hussey, who owns one of his paintings. She said, “I love the picture. There is a peace and a lucidity about it which settles the mind”. In a letter to Eldred she said, “You truly deserve to have your work recognised and known more widely, though I can imagine that it must be very hard to reveal so much of what is in your private soul to public scrutiny.”
Could these people have recognised the things that held Eldred back from being successful ‘commercially’? It certainly wasn’t his amazing artwork.
Eldred has lived in and had success in different countries. Here in New Zealand where he was born he had solo exhibitions in Auckland and was a twice a finalist in the prestigious Benson & Hedges Art Awards. In Australia he had solo exhibitions in Sydney and one of his paintings was purchased to be hung in the National Gallery in Canberra by the same person who caused a scandal by buying Jackson Pollock’s painting Blue Poles for 1.3 million dollars. In 2015 Eldred returned to New Zealand, and fortunately for us, came to live in Katikati where we will have the privilege of being the first people to see a new body of his work.
During my visit we went into his studio. Here there were numerous works in progress…some of which were not perfect squares which made them wonderfully different and organic. Eldred uses many materials to create his work including twigs, leaves, sand, seeds, shells and more.
Eldred also enjoys sketching and creating sculptures. He certainly is multi-talented.
Eldred’s work is textured and three dimensional. It looks hard and simplistic but at the same time has a softness to it, a complexity and depth. It makes you want to touch it.
The materials used look randomly placed but if just one piece were removed the balance of the work would be disrupted proving just how much thought is put into every piece.
As Matthew Green said, “when viewing his work, unlike much modern art, one certainly doesn’t think ‘I could do that, in fact my five-year-old could’ – the work is and appears to be incredibly complex which displays amply the effort put into each creation.”
The following is a piece that Eldred created with seeds and wire which he attached to a wall with Blu-tack. He told me, ‘I like the fact that it makes shadows because it makes it very spacial.
The following are some of his past works and I for one am looking forward to seeing his upcoming exhibition. Eldred’s exhibition “Recent Works” starts on 17th September 2018 and will run until 29th September 2018.
Eldred can be contacted at 07 562 0957 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRY MADDOX GALLERY 18 Main Road, Katikati Mon-Fri 9am-4:30pm Sat 9am-1pm 07-549 2592
Birgitt Shannon: Text and images of the creativity of Eldred Wisdom by Birgitt Shannon. Kati Kati based artist Birgitt Shannon is a regular contributor to ARTbop. Birgitt is also the principal Event Organiser of the Affordable Art & Artisan Fair at the Black Sheep Whakamarama – a collaborative community not for profit venture by ARTbop and the Black Sheep. Birgitt creates a monthly YouTube interview series with the Fair participants: Art by Birgitt YouTube. On her channel you’ll find images of her work, interviews with local creatives and projects Birgitt has been invited to be involved with. You can also see Birgitt’s work online and at the AAAFair on the last Sunday of every month.
Birgitt has her own website at www.artbybirgitt.com Facebook:www.facebook.com/artbybirgitt/ YouTube: www.youtube.com/channel/UCZIASqJ6YdF5eElBpJJVxvQ/featured?view_as=subscriber
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