Mary McIntyre

Mary McIntyre
19 April 2011 – 29 May 2011, Drawing Room & Ballroom

An exhibition curated from the Wallace Arts Trust Collection in conjunction with Mary McIntyre’s exhibition at Whitespace. 

Mary McIntyre’s work has been in the public domain since 1967. She has exhibited prolifically over the past four decades, contributing to more than 50 group shows and mounting over 30 solo exhibitions. James Wallace has been collecting McIntyre’s work since the mid ‘80s. This artist/patron relationship, nurtured for over 25 years, is represented here in an exhibition of paintings and drawings selected from the 54 McIntyre works in the Wallace Arts Trust’s collection.


Mary McIntyre’s earliest paintings date from the years she spent as a farmer’s wife, living and working in the rural Waikato. But, in common with so many New Zealand artists in the mid 20th century, it was an encounter with Colin McCahon that set McIntyre on her professional path. Tutoring McIntyre at an Elam Summer School at the beginning of 1966, McCahon left her with a clear message – he thought she had a future as an artist if she was prepared to make the sacrifices necessary to follow her dream. McIntyre’s work in this exhibition tells the story of those sacrifices. She returned to the farm, saw her six children through school and then she left, moving first to Hamilton and then on to Auckland. Largely self taught, she travelled to London and Italy ’discovering’ the Italian Renaissance masters on her journey. It is their work, and that of the Surrealists, that informs McIntyre’s distinctive style.


Although McIntyre’s style might be international in its points of reference, her subject matter is distinctly her own, and clearly contemporary. Her work is essentially autobiographical, with its source in her personal experience and supported by her commitment to the practice of life drawing; since 1981 she has attended weekly life drawing sessions. Principally figurative, her paintings are McIntyre’s perception of the world and of herself, re-presented in a combination of symbolism and photorealism. Her application of paint is exceptionally smooth, eliminating evidence of brushstrokes and texture; her technique neither overshadows nor interferes with her content. Overall the works present a personal perspective, the artist’s unremitting commentary on her life, her attitudes, and relationships. Through her virtuosity with her brush, her experiences are exorcised and aired. So too are her public outings, her family and her friends. The works might be uncomfortable for some and difficult to decipher for others, but they are endlessly imaginative. Hers is a distinctly individual voice in the art history of New Zealand.


Robin Woodward
March 2011


Wednesday 4 May 1:30pm

Artist Mary McIntyre will talk about her practice and exhibition UNease on show at The Pah Homestead from 19 April – 29 May. Mary will take a guided walk around UNease, answering any questions that you may have.


>>Click here to see shots from the opening night, kindly provided by Sait Akkirman of


‘Mary McIntyre: UNease’ booklet $4

Featuring an introduction from Art Historian Robin Woodward, and excerpts from the book ‘Mary McIntyre: Painter’ by Robin Woodward, published by Whitespace 2010.

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