27 Oct 2011
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Sir Peter Graham Siddell, KNZM, QSO (1935-2011) was a noted and much loved New Zealand painter. With a career that spanned more than 40 years, Sir Peter was one of this country’s most widely recognised artists.
Born and educated in Auckland, Sir Peter left school at 16 and apprenticed as an electrician for five years. He worked as a tradesman and then a teacher, before becoming an artist. Aside from a term at night school, Sir Peter was a self-taught painter. In 1960 he married fellow artist Sylvia Siddell and the couple had two daughters.
From the time of his first solo show in 1972, Sir Peter made art his full time career. He had numerous solo exhibitions in both public and commercial galleries, was a featured artist during the Benson and Hedges art awards in the 1970s, and today his works are held in private, public and corporate collections nationwide. In 1979 he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council travel grant, and used the money to visit Australia and study the art scene.
Sir Peter’s hard-edged, realist paintings are mainly depictions of Auckland. Over theyears he explained that his paintings are more a monument to the memories of his childhood, than accurate depictions of land, town or cityscapes. His work is noted for its sense of stillness and the absence of human participation; no telephone poles, cars, boats, pollution or indeed people appear. Earlier this year, a comprehensive survey of his art career was published by Random House New Zealand, The Art of Peter Siddell.
Testament to his long term service to the arts, Sir Peter was awarded the Queens Service Order in 1991, and was made a Knight Companion of the Order of Merit in 2008. Sir Peter is only the second New Zealand artist to be knighted: the first was Sir Toss Woollastonin 1979.
Sir Peter Siddell died 24 October 24, 2011.