MANY of his books lie scattered on people’s coffee tables, stacked in their bookcases, and referred to as various conversations arise about the buildings which are, or used to be, part of our everyday landscape.
Well-known artist (Foster) John Husband, QSO, has recorded, whether intentionally or not, many of the changes throughout Southland, its landscapes, buildings and towns over many decades.
Some buildings are long gone, except in memories which over time also fade, other buildings have been altered, some are still recognisable, and some of the views he has captured in his artworks are still the same.
Often, his artworks have been accompanied by snippets of information, local histories, anecdotes and observations, which Riverton Community Arts Centre project co-ordinator Lisa Grace describes as “a priceless contribution to the history of Southland and beyond”.
Opening on Sunday, the exhibition John Husband, View From The Artist’s Studio will give an insight into his long career.
The inspiration for this exhibition was taken from a painting Husband produced in 1977, From the Artist’s Studio, which is held in the Southland Museum & Art Gallery collection.
Ms Grace said the artwork took about a year to complete.
“John began the piece not long after moving into his studio on the corner of Spey and Dee Sts in Invercargill. The painting illustrates his view from the studio’s north-facing window, looking down on the service alleyway behind the shops on Dee St.”
As part of the exhibition at the arts centre on Riverton’s main street, his Marne St artist studio has been dismantled from his home and reconstructed in the gallery.
Described as a “survey exhibition”, the gallery rooms give an overview of Husband’s long and distinguished career, and features artworks never before exhibited in a gallery setting which will be available for purchase.
Interspersed among Husband’s artworks are many of his personal effects – his brushes, drawing instruments, paints, furniture and books – which not only add to the depth of the exhibition but may also raise a lump in the throat or a tear in the eye.
Many of his original pen and wash artworks, some from the Pub’s O’ The South and Riverton and Beyond books, are displayed either framed or in folders and will be available to purchase. Some of the books he produced will also be on sale.
As well as artist, Husband was also the director of Anderson Park Art Gallery for more than half a century. He also worked as a journalist, broadcaster, musician and is a philanthropist.
His work appeared in The Southland Timesfor 22 years and 20 years in The Western Star, the first in the Phoenix edition in 1996 and the last in April 2016, with a brief history alongside each illustration. For 16 years he was a broadcaster at Foveaux Radio.
Husband and his partner, Jan Ross, specifically chose the Riverton Community Arts Centre for this exhibition to help raise much-needed funds to help keep the centre open, Ms Grace said.
“Everyone involved in this project feels incredibly privileged and very excited about this event.”
The exhibition process had taken two and a half months to gather the information, with Ms Grace gleaning and documenting information and the process photographed by photographer Hannah McCrostie, which included documenting all of Husband’s work at his home and studio.
“It is a comprehensive overviews of an artist’s life work and career and also includes the 1982 TVNZ 45 minute documentary The Southlanders, which featured Mr Husband on a loop screening at the gallery.”
Ms Grace said the exhibition was “a very personal event” for Husband and the Riverton community, as “Riverton is the place he loves” and where he has called home for the past 30 years.
“It is therefore very fitting the show is on display at our community arts centre.”