Influences: Phillip Waddington

Influences: Phillip Waddington

Growing up in Petone, enjoying a typical New Zealand lifestyle of spending time in the local native forest and at the beach, Phillip developed an early appreciation of nature, in particular birds which he kept from an early age. Birds have always been a source of inspiration for Phillip’s artwork, evidenced in his early drawings, including the pencil sketch Raptors featured in this exhibition.

Phillip was further influenced by an association with the Animal Ecology Division of the Department of Science and Research. His participation in extensive field trips with these experts reinforced his drive to promote and protect our endangered bird species. He is deeply concerned over the plight of many native bird species that are under threat of extinction.

Proceeds from the sales of Phillip’s artworks in the 1990s went towards the protection of 57 acres of pre-European forest located in Stokes Valley, Wellington. His aim was to save it from development housing and he was then faced with the huge task of caring for this land (kaitiaki) and controlling the predators of the native wildlife within. Most important to Phillip was to avoid using deadly toxins on the land so that the ecosystem was not disrupted, so he used his design and problem solving skills to develop humane predator traps. From trialling these very basic prototypes, hundreds of thousands have been made and are used to protect Kiwi and other endangered wildlife.

Although the unique flora and fauna of New Zealand are of special interest, Phillip is equally skilled in portraiture. Perhaps the portraits he is most well known for are those of the last of the Māori women with the traditional facial tattoo (moko) whom he met during his travels through the Ureweras as a young man. Subjects for paintings often come from Phillip's observations of people in everyday life. He built a lasting rapport with several of these (and more recent) portrait subjects.

Phillip says his media of choice for portraiture is oil - "I paint in oils mainly because this medium lends itself to being able to use old masters’ techniques which is my preference." He has developed a painting style influenced by two great masters, Rembrandt and C F Goldie, and has also continued in the footsteps of Goldie by recording through his art, engaging and important visual records of the Māori moko tradition. His Māori oil portraits justifiably earned Phillip the nickname The Living Goldie.

Phillip finds inspiration for painting everywhere. As a keen observer of nature, people and the places occupied by both, he has created a body of work using a variety of techniques and materials. He has the ability to capture the essence of the subject and reflect this back to the viewer in a very engaging way. Aside from his stunning portrayals of New Zealand native fauna, his time as artist in residence at Wellington Zoo provided a great opportunity to observe and create compelling and sympathetic images some of the Zoo’s non-native residents.

A man of many talents, Phillip Waddington is an artist, an art restorer, a conservationist, an inventor and a drummer. This exhibition is a celebration of his Influences.

Influences is Phillip's first major exhibition in over 30 years and Mitchell Studios is delighted to be hosting his wonderful artworks.

Learn more about Phillip through his website.

Phillip Waddington Painting Demonstration