Born in Mātauri Bay, Te Tai Tokerau/Northland, Pauline Yearbury (née Blomfield) was one of the first Māori women, along with renowned educator Dame Kāterina Mataira, to attend the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland. Beginning her training in 1943, she worked first as a student and later as a tutor. After six years at Elam, Yearbury returned home to Russell in 1952.
Initially, she and husband James, also an Elam graduate, worked together as house painters, and were later commissioned to produce several large murals. The murals were narrative-based and told stories from local history.
Yearbury was committed to ancestral knowledge; the retelling of Māori mythology was central to her practice, which often took the form of incised wood panels, with figurative scenes depicted in an abstract and stylised manner.
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