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Bill Moore - Artist
Dorothy - 23/4/99

His passionate desire to paint persisted even when in New Zealand being an artist was not regarded as "a proper job".

Art a fascination from childhood

Bill Moore painting at Mount Cook
Bill Moore painting at Mount Cook
Art shop windows and the McDougall Art Gallery in Christchurch were magnets for Bill in his childhood. Drawing and painting were his keenest interests. In Form 2 when he was asked to do a project on the history of shipping he wrote very little, but did paintings of ships throughout the ages, coracles and men-of war through to modern battleships, with captions rather than a full text. That project won him the top mark.

He attended Papanui High School but he couldn't fulfil his desire to study art. In those days he had to fit into the curriculum decreed by the school. The art teacher said, "We don't want boys doing art beyond the fourth form because there are no classes for them. We want you to do technical drawing."

Finally a course in art
Bill continued to paint, but without a tutor. At the end his schooldays the staff recognised his ability and the school offered him a small scholarship to art school. He attended the School of Art part-time while studying at the Christchurch Teachers' Training College. He majored in art at the Teachers' College with Jamie Masterton and Barry Wilkie who gave him what amounted to an individual course. Jamie Masterton was a very keen water colourist, and Bill feels that he owes to him his interest in water colours today.

Teaching career
Bill wanted to have a satisfying career as a teacher - satisfying to him and to his pupils. Art was regarded by people as something which could only be a secondary interest or hobby, whereas teaching was respected as "a proper job".

Bill began his teaching at Jacksons on the West Coast and he found rich ground for painting in the Taramakau Valley with its immense mood changes. Then the school roll dropped and after six months he was transferred to Okuti Valley on Banks Peninsula. This gave him a new environment for his work.

Travelling and studying overseas
After two years he married Lesley and they went overseas to visit the galleries and see the original works of painters whom he had always admired. Perhaps the highlights were seeing Michelangelo's "Holy Family", and "The Rondo" at the Uffizzi Gallery in Florence, and the works of Van Gogh at the Reich Museum in Amsterdam.

He and Lesley taught in London for a few months and Bill studied portraiture at the St Martin's School of Art.

Return to New Zealand
Success in his "proper job"

Bill taught for some years at Heaton Intermediate where he was teaching an upper stream class, superivisng Teachers' College students, and using art a great deal in his teaching. He used unified studies of an area, including language, social studies and art, combining all the subjects into one. This gave all children the chance to learn in the sphere of their greatest ability.

Using this format they won a New Zealand-wide competition with a book on Banks Peninsula - its history, geography, geology, its fauna and flora - including prose and poetry and ample art work.

More emphasis on teaching art
Later he taught at Middleton Grange School, as head of the middle school, with special responsibility for developing the art programme which carried through to seventh form and art history as a separate subject.

Bill's own painting continues.
Throughout the years of teaching Bill kept developing his own painting in a way that was health-giving to him. Teaching involved so much giving out, and the painting returned to Bill a strength that fortified him for his teaching.

Painting New Zealand high country
For the family the painting brought rich experiences as they spent long holidays in the beautiful areas where Bill painted high country scenery.

Winter At Burkes Pass (water colour)
Winter At Burkes Pass (water colour)
(Click here for a larger version)

Favourite places were the Routeburn (west of Lake of Wakatipu and north of Milford), Wanaka and Mount Cook.

Cardrona Hotel, Crown Range, Wanaka (oil)
Cardrona Hotel, Crown Range, Wanaka (oil)
(Click here for a larger version)

Mustering sheep at Glentanner Station, Mount Cook (water colour)
Mustering sheep at Glentanner Station, Mount Cook (water colour)
(Click here for a larger version)

Sabbatical leave
In 1980 Bill had sabbatical leave for the winter term and visited England and did the Grand Tour as in the Renaissance period, from Basel in Switzerland to Florence, Venice, Rome and Greece, following in the footsteps of artists and writers since the sixteenth century.

Revisiting these centres of art was even more meaningful after teaching art history. He found studying Greek art and architecture humbling, realising that all those years ago people knew so much about proportion and symmetry.

Painting full time
Since retiring from teaching in 1987 Bill has concentrated on his painting. In recent years he has had three trips to Europe, and now a greater proportion of his paintings features scenes outside New Zealand.

Village Street, St-Cirq-hapopie (oil)
Village Street, St-Cirq-hapopie (oil)
(Click here for a larger version)

European architecture a theme
He is strongly attracted to painting the architecture of Europe, especially Scandinavia where the use of wood makes the buildings significantly different. In Norway the wooden houses were a contrast to the brick and stone buildings he had painted further south.

Norwegian Scene at Konglungen (oil)
Norwegian Scene at Konglungen (oil)
(Click here for a larger version)

Light in New Zealand and in Europe
In Bill's view New Zealand scenes are among the most difficult to paint because of the intensity of the light, but he enjoys the challenge. The softer light in Britain and Europe makes it easier to recapture the reality of the scenes.

This difference in the light often determines whether Bill paints in water colours or oils, but he has painted many subjects in both.

Painting everywhere he goes
Everywhere that Bill has gone he has been sketching and painting. Even on the boat on his first trip to Britain in 1959 he painted water colours at every port of call and before they arrived in Britain he was able to hold an exhibition of his work and sell most of the paintings.

On his return he brought back water colours from Switzerland, Holland and Austria and found that they sold very quickly in New Zealand. In 1980 he painted English scenes and these too were very popular. As an increasing number of New Zealanders travel to Britain and Europe they enjoy having a painting which will remind them of a place they have visited.

Back in New Zealand Bill has had a number of exhibitions of his paintings, sometimes showing just his own work and sometimes combining with other artists.

Trends in his work
Going to Europe has meant that Bill has painted places full of people rather than the relatively empty landscape of the New Zealand high country. Now he is becoming increasingly interested in painting people and their activity in the landscape.

Walking the Dog, Sumner Beach (water colour)
Walking the Dog, Sumner Beach
(water colour)

(Click here for a larger version)

Click Here to see more of Bill's paintings.

Read more about Bill and his paintings.

We have had a number of enquiries about Bill's paintings. If you wish to discuss his work with him you may contact him at

Phone (03) 322 8907 (Int. +64 3 322 8907)
Fax (03) 322 9086 (Int. +64 3 322 9086

All photos source - Bill Moore.


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