A Painter’s Journey: Rita Angus’s Central Otago

This film celebrates Rita Angus’s artistic practice – diving into her painting Central Otago (1953–56/1969).

It was the same country I remembered but so much more, colourful, strange & exhilarating. 

–  Rita Angus, letter to Douglas Lilburn, 1953 

Angus travelled around the region in the summer of 1953, recording what she saw in watercolour studies and sketches. She then pieced these together to create a single oil painting. 

Here, we imagine her process. See the landscapes through Angus’s eyes. Explore her vivid colour palette. Trace the evolution of the work – from fluid watercolour study to crisp oil painting. 

Central Otago was commissioned by composer Douglas Lilburn, Angus’s close friend. Two of Lilburn’s compositions are used in the film’s soundtrack.  

A Painter’s Journey was filmed in Central Otago and Te Papa’s paintings conservation studio in 2021 for the exhibition Rita Angus: New Zealand Modernist (Te Papa, December 2021–April 2022). A smaller exhibition of Angus’s work, including this film, is currently touring regional galleries around Aotearoa New Zealand.