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The Gisborne Photo News




When viewing Graeme Mudge's work you will see the versatility and talent of this artist, with an enormous amount of experience, he can direct himself to painting anything.

When I visited Graeme at his home in Ormond Road, it was a beautiful sunny day with all the doors open, giving the instant impression of a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, and I was right, it was.

I joined Graeme outside on his verandah in the sun, and instantly felt at ease with him, as he is an extremely friendly, lively person, totally unpretentious, with a wonderful sense of humour. His life is sofull of interesting and varied things, that I will not even be able to touch on most, (actually, I couldn't anyway, as a lot he talked to me about I couldn't print, he is too honest!)

Born in South Canterbury, he attended Balfour Primary School, where his interest in art began. Moving on to Otago Boys High School, he did an Art course, and was also an excellent runner, coming third in the 100 yard senior sprint race in 1951. After leaving High School, Graeme went to Canterbury University, graduating in 1954 with a Dip F.A.

His first real art job was in medical administration, at Christchurch Hospital, sketching facial subjects before and during plastic surgery, and after passing out the first time, found it quite interesting.

Then it was off to England, to experience more of life, and ended up with a job drawing machinery. He said, "work is work", and this enabled him to study art at night for 3 years at the Regent Street Polytechnic Institute, and the Central School of Arts & Crafts in London.

After returning to New Zealand, he attended Auckland Teachers' College, Graduating as an Art Teacher.

Graeme came to Gisborne in 1963, describing it as "a great place to live, and to paint", and became an Art Teacher at Gisborne Boys' High School for five years. He taught Art up until 1972, when he then became a full time artist, also doing occasional relief teaching. Graeme Mudge is multi-talented. He paints in watercolours, which he describes as his recording of things, an exercise. When painting in oils, he switches to a contemplative mood. His wood carvings are exceptional, with many of them placed around his garden, making it a very interesting place to explore.

He had his first Gisborne exhibition of abstract art in 1963, which became an extremely controversial showing, as he was one of the first abstract artists in Gisborne to exhibit nudes. As there were few artists doing nudes in those days, he did cause quite a stir. He has had at least one exhibition every year since then, and has exhibited at many Art Shows around New Zealand. Most of his exhibitions are now shown in his Ormond Road garden, here in Gisborne, where he has lived in the same house since 1964.

Graeme met his Swiss wife, Lissette, in the front room of his house when she came to buy a painting. They were married in 1966, and have a son, Conrad, and a daughter, Annalise.

Lissette comes from a very beautiful village in Switzerland, called Trin, so it is the obvious place for them to spend a lot of their time, where Graeme is well known in the village as an artist, and is often seen in the streets and around the countryside, illustrating the people and scenery. They have both travelled extensively, and being able to visit the amazing galleries over Europe and England would have to be the first on Graeme's mind. I think he looks very Parisian, and can genuinely picture him painting away obliviously, on the Left Bank.

Norman Maclean was the obvious person to ask to comment about Graeme Mudge, as Norm was his first senior pupil at High School and has also taught with him. Having introduced Norm to the different media and styles of painting, Graeme has helped him greatly in his own art. Norm goes on to describe Graeme as a teacher, being very funny and unconventional, and quite often tended to upset the other teachers. School must have been a very interesting place when Graeme Mudge was there. Norman thinks that Graeme has more talent in his little finger than almost any other artist in New Zealand. There must be no better pictorially documented district than Gisborne as painted by Graeme. An obvious admirer of Graeme, Norm has some wonderful wood carvings that he has acquired from Graeme over the years, one of them being a spectacular head of Alexander The Great, which is displayed on Norm's mantle in his lounge.

A very colourful and energetic person, Graeme, along with his wife Lissette and friends, are planning a pilgrimage next year through Northern Spain. The thought of doing this, leaves me both mentally and physically exhausted, but Graeme being a half marathon runner, assures me that he is indeed, very fit.

It is a common sight to see Graeme around the streets, and different places, painting, oblivious to all who pass by. Do acknowledge him, as he talks to everyone who stops, and enjoys people taking an interest in his work. A visit to his home when he has one of his exhibitions should be a must for most, as it could prove to be a very entertaining experience.


Shown above is Graeme with some of his woodcarvings.


Graeme painting one of his street scenes down Gladstone Road in pen and wash.