Diana Halstead was born in 1941. She enrolled at Elam, Auckland in 1959 and had teachers such as Louise Henderson and Garth Tapper who taught her painting, Jim Allen for sculpture. Additionally, the American art historian Arthur Lawrence became a great influence in her early life. She worked as a painter, ceramic sculptor, and used fabric and mixed media in her work.
After graduating in 1963 Diana had a series of successful Auckland exhibitions through the ‘70s and ‘80s at the New Vision Gallery and the Petar James Gallery, the latter representing the minimalist abstractionists of New Zealand at the time. The early ‘90s saw continued successful shows in Auckland at Artis and other galleries. Diana has continued to paint consistently up to the present day, and for the last 16 years has lived in peaceful seclusion with her partner at the end of an unsealed road on the Coromandel, seemingly away from the distractions and interference of the busy world. Now her work depicts her life in the wooded area where she lives, surrounded by animals — feral and tamed. Her oil paintings are as if of dreams, containing archetypes and often imagery of another era. Her choice of colour sometimes seems to add a filter for looking. Her pictures are often painted from a bird’s eye view, as if she is merely flying over as observer. The viewer, as a consequence, has no choice but to enter these scenes, drawn in by their fairy tale qualities.
There are wild boar, deer, owls, dogs, horses and other birds, drifting Chagall-like over the landscape. This is transporting imagery, deftly painted after a life time of practice and connection to the natural world, the subconscious, the art of telling a story.
Sometimes an artist will show you into the archives of their drawings, which is always a treat as a gallery owner, because so much is revealed about an artist in their smaller, personal sketches.
I had such a day recently where Diana Halstead let me take away a series of small, intimate oil pencil and water colour drawings she had done in the 90’s, and which had never been seen by anyone until now. Quite the discovery for me I must say and we have decided to let them out into the world, such is their calibre, originality and sheer desirability (if I’m right!)
They are unframed and measure 300mm x 210mm.
All are able to be viewed at the gallery and are available for $ 300.00 each.
I consider them to be a little offering to the world from Diana, whose larger oil paintings are in major collections all over New Zealand Aotearoa.