127 South Street

Manawatu, New Zealand

Phone: (06) 323 6401

Temporary Exhibitions

Nan Penhey, a retrospective Exhibition


A home coming for a retrospective collection by local artist Nannette (Nan) Penhey, marked the celebration of a lifetime of works for her significant birthday.

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Over 38 works have found their way back to Feilding for the exhibition that opened at The Coach House Museum this week.

Perth born Nan Penhey has been drawing and painting all of her life, primarily an oil painter, she also works on paper with water colour and pencils.

As a young girl she studied art at the Perth Technical School and in 1946 moved to Sydney. She married Allan Penhey ten years later after a whirlwind romance which saw her move over the ditch to New Zealand.

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Her husband assured her, Feilding wasn’t at all like an Australian outback town. It had a taxi, a sewage system and shops, though admittedly, few neon lights.

While raising their three children and helping in the family business in Feilding, Penhey always found time to paint and as their children grew older there was more time to devote to her artwork.

In the early seventies Penhey attended day classes at Caccia Birch tutored by John Bevan Ford and Eva Rawnsley, and one memorable class with a guest tutor, Toss Woollaston.

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The female form has been at the heart of Nans work. Inspired by Matisse and his Cut Outs and Picasso’s cubist nudes shown in the pages of her Readers Digest art books. Their influence is apparent in her abstracted works. “There is so much beauty in the human form,” she says.

Nan shared her passion by tutoring classes at the Community Learning Centre for many years and passed on her love of art to her children.

Her daughter Sue James says, “I remember while growing up, rarely did my mother see a vista on a road trip and not point out the beauty. We would mutter and pretend not to see.”

James studied at Quay School of Art, graduating with a Bachelor of fine arts in 2015. She has exhibited work at Whanganui’s Sargent Gallery Review, If It Weren’t for my Children; Edith Gallery, Is This All; Snails Artist Gallery, Honour the Peacemaker as well as Space Studio and Gallery Whanganui, Is This All.

“Is this all, reflects that part of my mother’s life, the misogynist times, the isolation and loneliness of living in small town New Zealand in the 50’s as an outsider,” James says.  

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The work is made of etched aluminium blinds. The blinds symbolising Nan’s confinement to her home with her young children.

Etched into the aluminium are collaged snippets from her personal letters sent home to her mother, sharing with her those difficulties and her loneliness.

Nan Penhey’s retrospective art exhibition is at the Coach House Museum until Sunday 30 June 2019. Although most are held in private collections, some of the works will be for sale.

Open 7 Days 10am - 4pm

121 South Street,

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Open 7 Days, 10am - 4pm

127 South Street,

(06) 323 6401

email: manager@coachhousemuseum.nz

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