John Walsh

John Walsh
Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti/Māori
Date of birth
Place of birth
Tolaga Bay/Gisborne (region)/New Zealand
A largely self-taught artist, John Walsh attended Canterbury University’s Ilam School of Fine Arts during 1973–74. Returning to his hometown in Tolaga Bay, Walsh worked on marae restorations and continued to teach himself painting, focusing mainly on producing portraits of the local community around Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa/Gisborne, for which he was awarded the BNZ Portrait Award in 1977.

A member of Ngā Puna Waihanga (Māori Artists and Writers Society) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Walsh credits the group’s annual hui (meeting), through which he met artists like Selwyn Muru and Paratene Matchitt, for stimulating his early art practice.

In the 1990s, Walsh developed the style for which he is now best known: floating, ethereal landscapes populated by ghostly, anthropomorphic creatures and motifs inspired by contemporary events, Māori mythology and colonial history and offering an eternal, timeless vision of Aotearoa New Zealand’s lived terrain.