Wanganui Chronicle – Biography of Taihape’s world acclaimed artist launched


Thanks to the Wanganui Chronicle for publishing this article about the life and times biography of Douglas MacDiarmid on July 19, 2018.

Biography of Taihape’s world acclaimed artist Douglas MacDiarmid launched

By: Lin Ferguson

At almost 96, still living in Paris, New Zealand artist Douglas MacDiarmid is the oldest survivor of his extraordinary generation of creative New Zealanders.

His biography Colours of a Life by niece and journalist Anna Cahill, launched last week, tells the story of the remarkable boy from the small rural town of Taihape.

Somehow the story of MacDiarmid got away from New Zealand art aficiondos because he chose to pursue a global career rather staying home and being a domestic Kiwi lad.

According to the book, MacDiarmid has achieved an international reputation as an expatriate New Zealand painter, long based in France but staying in tune with his homeland.

“He defies labelling, acclaimed particularly as a superb colourist and for the diversity, technique and intellectual rigour of his paintings,” the book says.

He is the son of Taihape doctor and surgeon Gordon MacDiarmid and his wife Mary.

He left Taihape as a young boy and never returned to New Zealand.

Just as the diversity of MacDiarmid’s paintings has something for everyone, one review describes why this book will appeal to a wide audience:

“Apart from those interested in art, New Zealanders making it abroad, motivational life stories of overcoming the odds, history and cultural change, the biography is expected to attract an enthusiastic readership among art professionals and students, collectors and entities, diplomats, and the still-marginalised gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities.”

MacDiarmid hoped his biography would be a positive example to encourage other conflicted people to follow their inclinations and dreams.

“More widely, this book is for anyone looking for inspiration to liberate their potential and dedicate their life to doing what they love. My past is made up of so many different stages, so many different chapters packed with experience that goes from the most ecstatic to the most anguishing,” he said.

Papa Cliff pool with bathers (Tiriraukawa) by Douglas MacDiarmid 1946 oil on carton 35x25
Tiriraukawa (Papa cliff pool with bathers, Taihape) 1947 by Douglas MacDiarmid. Credit: Collection of Museum of New Zealand Te Papa

Colours of a Life – the life and times of Douglas MacDiarmid by Anna Cahill (2018) is available online here. Purchase a copy in person from the New Zealand Portrait Gallery in Wellington, Jonathan Grant Gallery in Auckland, or from all good bookstores across New Zealand. Published by Mary Egan Publishing (July 2018).

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