Olivia Spencer Bower

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More About This Title Olivia Spencer Bower


‘I paint for myself. That’s the only way. For when you paint to please it’s not the honest thing & inhibits the chances of discovery, because there’s no point in writing or painting unless you make your own discoveries.’ Olivia Spencer Bower wrote those words near the end of an almost six-decade career as one of New Zealand’s finest and best-loved artists. Born in England, she initially came to New Zealand reluctantly but learned to call this country home and to cherish its landscape, particularly in the South Island. She was a superb watercolorist, but worked in a wide variety of media and was always keen to experiment and remained open to new ideas. In this, the first book to consider Olivia Spencer Bower’s life and work, art historian Julie King offers, through a lively and impeccably researched text and a selection of watercolors, paintings, drawings, prints and illustrations, a superb evocation of one of the most important and vital artists this country has produced.


Julie King came from England to teach art history at the University of Canterbury. She has curated nationally touring exhibitions of the work of Sydney Lough Thompson and Margaret Stoddart, and she is the author of Sydney Lough Thompson: At home and abroad and Flowers into Landscape: Margaret Stoddart. She has researched and written about many aspects of art, and contributed articles to Art New Zealand and numerous publications.