Author(s): Hamish Keith
Robert Ellis ONZM is one of the pre-eminent artists in New Zealand with a career extending over 65 years. He is a graduate of the Royal College of Art, London and began exhibiting his work publicly during that time. He served for two years in the RAF Royal Air Force as a photographer with 3 Group Bomber Command. He taught for several years at the Yeovil School of Art before taking up a senior lectureship at the Elam School of Fine Arts, the University of Auckland in 1957. He was awarded a personal chair at the University, and retired as an Emeritus Professor in 1994. During those years he held over 60 solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows. He continues to be actively involved in producing works for exhibition. Robert and his wife live in Auckland, in the same street as their daughters and grandchildren. The book has 312 pages, and there are 230 stunning images of his paintings, complemented by his prints, medallions, stained glass windows, a magnificent tapestry and bound together with intimate photographs of his family and friends. The sheer volume of artworks included in the book, speak for themselves. Many of them have not been seen in public for years, if not decades and the authors are grateful to the many collectors, both public and private, who opened their doors to be part of this project. His long time friend Hamish Keith writes about Robert's experience of New Zealand within an artistic context. An essay by his wife Elizabeth and daughters Hana and Ngarino describes his relationship with Maori and provides a greater depth of understanding of the issues he confronts in his paintings. Included are critical reviews of Robert's changing work from the time of his first New Zealand exhibition at the Auckland Society of Arts (ASA) in 1959 to the present. This is a uniquely bicultural art book and offers a fascinating slice of the art history of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Hamish Keith CNZM OBE, started work in 1958 as a student assistant at the Auckland Art Gallery and is now self-employed as a cultural curmudgeon and cultural odd-job man. He has written two histories of New Zealand art, made television documentaries, been a television arts reporter, radio interviewer, written television drama and criticism, written DIY books on separation and divorce, been National President of Actors Equity, Chair of the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council, newspaper columnist, and Chair of the National Gallery. Conferred Honorary Doctorate University of Waikato. Lives in Auckland, married to Oscar-winning costume designer, Ngila Dickson. Elizabeth Ellis CNZM JP is active in New Zealand art, education and cultural sectors. Graduate of Elam School of Fine Arts The University of Auckland. She chairs the: Haerewa Maori Board of the Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki; Toi Iho Charitable Trust; Wairau Maori Advisory Panel of the Hundertwasser Arts Centre and Wairau Maori Art Gallery Project. Hana Ellis BA / LLB. She is a lawyer and mediator in family disputes. Ngarino Ellis PhD LLB is a Senior Lecturer in Art History, and Co-ordinator of Museums and Cultural Heritage programme at The University of Auckland. She has three children: Emere, Hana and Takimoana. Elizabeth, Hana and Ngarino live in Auckland and are Ngati Porou and Ngapuhi, and affiliated to Hinepare, O Hine Waiapu and Te Rawhiti maraes.