Author(s): Joanne Drayton
Her life and work 1885-1964 Published with the assistance of the Edith Collier Trust, Sarjeant Art Gallery and Whanganui Regional Community Polytechnic. Edith Collier's contribution to New Zealand art as an innovator, modernist and expatriate painter placed her in a most distinguished group, but her achievements have been eclipsed by the very company she kept - such as Frances Hodgkins and Margaret Preston. This book - and the travelling exhibition it accompanies - sets the record straight. After a thorough although conservative art education at the Technical School in Wanganui, Edith Collier left New Zealand in 1913 for St John's Wood Art School in London. She was then aged 27. Rapidly disillusioned, and feeling marginalised as an expatriate woman painter, she became more influenced by other expatriates in London, and was to enjoy greater success through exhibiting with the Society of Women Artists and Women's International Art Club - venues outside the art establishment - and became a significant Modernist painter. Collier returned to New Zealand in 1922 as an experienced artist with innovative ideas, but as a spinster in provincial Wanganui received harsh treatment, including what Drayton describes as savage, critical assessment and negative response from her own community. In a well-known incident (on which Drayton casts a new perspective) her father burned many of her finest paintings.She died in 1964.