Artist Profile

William James Reed

Born 1908, Died 1996

Apart from his service with the Field Ambulance Corp, in the Pacific Zone, 1942-45 where he also acted as a "War Artist," Reed spent all his life living and painting in Otago.

He attended the Canterbury College of Art, making contact with a number of well known artists including Archibald Nicoll, Richard Wallwork, Francis Shurrock and Leonard Booth. In later years he was a close associate of Rita Angus. At the conclusion of his studies William Reed worked for a firm producing pictorial advertising for the movies. He worked with Russell Clark at this time who became a very close friend and Reed was best man at his wedding. Most of his weekends were spent roaming over the Port Hills and cycling the plains of Canterbury in search of subject matter.

After the War, William Reed took a position at the Dunedin School of Art where he taught for more than thirty years. He found teaching fascinating and creative, devoting term holidays to his own art. His first one man exhibition was held at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery. While in Dunedin, the School of Art merged with the Polytech and some years before he retired in 1973 he was appointed Head of the Institution. On retiring, he moved to Invercargill holding a part time tutoring position at the Southland Community College. His work is held in all the major Galleries and Museums throughout New Zealand.

The details above provide the background of William Reed's life but do not portray the deep affection in which he was held by artists, students and friends. His intense passion for his land and its coastline was spiritually as well as emotionally charged, a reflection of his personality. The greatest tribute we can offer is to quietly view his paintings and acknowledge our debt to the "School of South Island Painters" the Lovell-Smiths, Olivia Spencer Bower, Rita Angus, Bill Sutton, Doris Lusk, Rudi Gopas and William James Reed who have helped us find our identity in a young land.

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