Olivia Spencer Bower

Nor'west light, Wakatipu

Nor'west light, Wakatipu by Olivia Spencer Bower

Artwork Detail

Dizzying aerial perspectives, strong rhythmic designs and a direct, economic technique typify Olivia Spencer Bower's landscapes of the 1930s, when, after study in London, she turned to the alpine scenery of southern New Zealand for subject matter. Her series of paintings of Lake Wakatipu capture the vivid blue skies, sweeping arcs of cloud and clear light characteristic of this region, distinctive conditions which are expressively rendered in Nor'west light, Wakatipu. Travelling widely to paint in front of the motif, Spencer Bower often faced physically challenging situations and weather conditions in her quest to articulate a personal vision of the powerful elemental forms of the remote high country. As a new immigrant and student at the Canterbury School of Art in the early 1920s she had spoken of her artistic aim 'to discover New Zealand. After having been brought up in such a habitated country as England, I was trying through my painting to find out how to cope with such a different environment'. A highly respected watercolourist, she maintained a long association with the Christchurch Group, a circle of innovative artists providing alternative exhibition opportunities to the conventional art society displays. From the outset she had an important role model in her mother, Rosa Spencer Bower, a successful painter who provided the principal family income and encouraged her daughter to be, like herself, a strong advocate for women artists. (from The Guide, 2001)

Nor'west light, Wakatipu
Olivia Spencer Bower
Production date
circa 1938
285 x 390 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, purchased 1979
Accession no
Other ID
Copying restrictions apply
New Zealand Art
Display status
Not on display

To find out which artworks are available for print requests and reproduction please enquire here. This service only applies to select artworks in the Gallery's collection.