City Gallery City Gallery Wellington

Past exhibition

Jeanne Macaskill: Day by Night

17 November–17 December 2006

Day by Night celebrates the life and work of senior Wellington painter, Jeanne Macaskill (née Bensemann)—just turned seventy-five. Works span five decades.

Macaskill trains as an art advisor with Gordon Tovey and works for the Department of Education in Auckland and Wellington before arriving in London in 1955, to study at Chelsea School of Art. She spends the 1960s as an artist in London, and is, for a time, an assistant to sculptor Henry Moore. The earliest works in the show—Meadows, Tray, and Table (1960) and Table and Chair (1961)—show her affinity with the work of English neo-romantics, while also evoking memories of the New Zealand landscapes of her youth.

In 1972, after seventeen years in London and France, Macaskill returns to New Zealand, settling in Wellington. Lake Rotoiti (1973), with its nod to Māori culture, and Mother’s Spring Garden, Nelson (1976) celebrate this homecoming.

Macaskill becomes a key figure in the Wellington art scene, serving on the council of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, including four years as vice president. In 1985, she has a major solo show at Wellington City Art Gallery, Undying Satisfactions.  In 2004, she is made a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her service to the arts and community. 

Macaskill's painting Cascade (1994) is a response to the death of her second husband, Patrick. For her, painting is a life-affirming process, a way of saying ‘we lived, we absolutely lived there’. She dies in 2014.