Fourteen paintings and drawings of high historical importance from the graduate exhibition of the late Selwyn Ngareatua Wilson (1929-2002) – the first Maori graduate from a New Zealand art school are on display in this collective exhibition for the first time since they were shown at the National Art Gallery, Wellington in 1951.
Acquired by the art museum in 2009 in a very poor state of repair and neglect, all the works have since been acquired in toto, conserved and reframed thanks to the generous support of the Oxford Sports Trust and NZ Lottery Environment & Heritage grants. They are now part of the art museum collection in perpetuity and for ongoing research.
This small but extremely important body of work by the brilliantly talented young Northlander is supplemented with his early ceramic experimentation and two much earlier self portraits from the Wilson family collection. His self portrait as a teenager during the War Period displays a suave self assured style and painterly virtuosity while his ceramics places him in equal importance contextually with the concurrent Uku Rere Nga Kaihanga Uku exhibition.
Wilson first entered the Elam School of Art immediately after WWII in 1945, paving the way for those Northlanders who followed in his footsteps, including Clive Arlidge and Ralph Hotere ONZ. Their early work from the 1950s through to the early 1970s expands on the creative whakapapa for which the late Selwyn Te Ngareatua Wilson is the Matua.