ONE of Queenstown’s most highly-regarded artists is being remembered as “Renaissance man”, a lover of a good debate, an armchair philosopher and the holder of an irreverent sense of humour.
Peter Beadle died aged 87 at Lakes District Hospital in February, having been diagnosed with dementia late in life.
But his family says he never lost his appreciation of art and the beauty of his surrounds.
Born in Invercargill in 1933, Peter had an identical twin brother, Owen, and showed early promise as an artist, but was also an “enthusiastic sportsman” and gifted cricketer and rugby player who played the latter for Southland in 1954 as second five/centre.
He and his wife of 61 years, Jillian (nee Gilmour), had two children, Deborah and Simon.
He started off his working life in the family sign-writing business with his father, but left that in the late ’60s to pursue his life-long dream of becoming a full-time artist.
Peter eventually built a studio and art gallery at the front of their Invercargill property and when the couple relocated to the Whakatipu in the mid-1990s they built a home and art gallery near Arrowtown, where he continued to paint until he was in his 80s.
Throughout the years he held successful exhibitions around New Zealand and overseas, and became recognised as one of the country’s leading contemporary landscape artists, with his work represented in many prestigious collections around the world.
Considered a master of light, his work was recognised in the 1999 New Year Honours List when he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit.
The family said Peter was always anchored in the south of New Zealand and was inspired by the beauty and awe of the environment, which he then revealed to others through his paintings.
“He knew and loved the coastlines, rivers, lakes, valleys and mountains of Fiordland, Stewart Island, Mt Cook and beyond; the dry beauty of Central Otago and the Mackenzie Country; and, of course, the Whakatipu Basin and its magnificent surrounds, encompassing Arrowtown, Queenstown and Paradise.”
In the early 1970s he produced three books of his works, focusing on Manapouri, Queenstown and Fiordland, and through his company, Southwest Art, he also produced cards, calendars and limited edition prints of his paintings.
His love for the environment led Peter to become an early environmentalist and conservationist Manapouri campaign in the late 1960s/early ’70s to stop the raising of the lake, was involved in the Southland Beech Forest Council, a member of the Southland Ecology Action and part of the drive to clean up Invercargill’s estuary.
The family said the deeper meaning of life always held a great interest for Peter, leading him to become an avid exponent of the benefits of transcendental meditation since the ’70s.
“His last few years were spent content and happy in the environment that he loved, cared for by his family and a wonderful team of carers,” his family said.
“He never lost his sense of humour and was described as a true gentleman to the end.”
He was farewelled at a private family service.