Jeanne Macaskill - Day by Night

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Media Release: November, 2006. 

Day by Night celebrates the life and work of one of Wellington’s senior painters, Jeanne Macaskill. Since returning to New Zealand in 1972, after 17 years living abroad—in England she was a friend of Bridget Riley’s and an assistant to sculptor Henry Moore--Macaskill has exhibited her work extensively in public and private galleries. The paintings in this exhibition, curated by Gregory O’Brien and Emma Bugden, present some key moments in a lifetime devoted to art.

Jeanne Macaskill’s paintings are a meditation on place and personal circumstance, a dialogue with art history and a series of Proustian recollections of childhood sensations. With characteristic playfulness, generosity and humility, she produces works like Mother’s Spring Garden, Nelson (1975), which are inventive and inviting.

On an even more personal note, Cascade (1994) is a response to the death of the artist’s second husband, Patrick Macaskill. The painting is an unfolding of grief—the moment when ‘everything crashes down—a bit like a huge slip. When the person you are most familiar with is suddenly not there and everything falls...’

In 2004 Macaskill was made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her generous services to the arts and community. This exhibition, as a whole, is an account of a lifetime. Macaskill’s art is also keenly tuned to cycles of nature and time: the changing of seasons in the garden, the rising and falling of tides, the passage of sun and moon over the world of human experience.

Jeanne Macaskill turns 75 this month. It is an appropriate time to consider an artistic career that spans an entire lifetime. For Macaskill painting is essentially an affirming process, a way of saying ‘we lived, we absolutely lived there’.

Biography: Jeanne Macaskill (née Bensemann) was born in Motueka in 1931. After studying at Victoria University, Wellington and Dunedin Teachers’ College she travelled to London where she completed five years of study at Chelsea School of Art gaining a National Diploma in Design. She returned to New Zealand in 1972 and settled in Wellington where she has been based ever since. Jeanne’s solo exhibitions include Victoria University, 1976 and Wellington City Art Gallery, 1985. She has also been included in group exhibitions at Pataka, Porirua; Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth and the Suter Gallery, Nelson.

Jeanne Macaskill—Day by Night

Michael Hirschfeld Gallery

17 November—17 December 2006