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CUP book

Edith Collier: Her life and work 1885-1964

20 November 2023

'Edith Collier: Her life and work 1885-1964' by Joanne Drayton. Edith Collier's contribution to New Zealand art as an innovator, modernist and expatriate painter was eclipsed by the company she kept. This book sets the record straight. Learn more. 


(Out of print)

August 1999
88pp, paperback
240 x 170mm, 40pp colour illustrations
ISBN: 0-908812-90-6

Published with the assistance of the Edith Collier Trust, Sarjeant Art Gallery and Whanganui Regional Community Polytechnic.

Edith Collier Her life and work 1885-1964

Edith Collier's contribution to New Zealand art as an innovator, modernist and expatriate painter placed her in a most distinguished group, but her achievements have been eclipsed by the very company she kept - such as Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston. This book - and the travelling exhibition it accompanies - sets the record straight.

After a thorough although conservative art education at the Technical School in Wanganui, Edith Collier left New Zealand in 1913 for St John's Wood Art School in London. She was then aged 27. Rapidly disillusioned, and feeling marginalised as an expatriate woman painter, she became more influenced by other expatriates in London, and was to enjoy greater success through exhibiting with the Society of Women Artists and Women's International Art Club - venues outside the art establishment - and became a significant Modernist painter.

Collier returned to New Zealand in 1922 as an experienced artist with innovative ideas, but as a spinster in provincial Wanganui received harsh treatment, including what Drayton describes as savage, critical assessment and negative response from her own community. In a well-known incident (on which Drayton casts a new perspective) her father burned many of her finest paintings. She died in 1964.

'Well-structured, balancing biography with intelligent consideration of Collier's oeuvre... Drayton's book adds to the documentation of our country's art history. Through its publication we will hopefully see Collier's contribution to New Zealand art afforded the status it deserves.' - Sunday Star-Times

"Jo Drayton has written her book simply, interestingly, and with good humour, unfolding Edith Collier's own story... It contains many black and white illustrations, and over 50 colour plates. At $29.95, this book is superb value.' - The Press

'This book is well illustrated with Collier's works and includes 53 colour photographs... This is the story of a quiet, dedicated woman who was certainly up with the modern, innovative painters of her time... ' - Southland Times

'... Joanne Drayton's attractive little book is an ideal introduction to the artist and her works.' - Otago Daily Times

Dr Joanne Drayton was, at the time of writing, a tutor in Art History at Whanganui Polytechnic. She now lectures in Art History at Unitec in Auckland. For her PhD at Canterbury University she studied the life and work of Edith Collier.

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