New Zealand Art - Doris Lusk

Doris Lusk is one of a small group of important New Zealand painters who emerged during the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s. Throughout a highly productive painting career that spanned five decades, Lusk explored both landscape painting and portraiture.

Issue information

Born in Dunedin in 1916, Lusk trained at the Dunedin King Edward Technical College from 1934 to 1939. During the 40’s she spent time painting in Central Otago and in the Nelson region with another great artist, Colin McCahon.

In the early 40’s Lusk moved to Christchurch and married Dermot Holland. She raised three children while continuing to paint and teach pottery part time at Risingholme. In 1947 she exhibited with an association called ‘The Group’, like-minded artists wishing to break with tradition.

During the 60’s Lusk began experimenting with the softness of watercolours and in 1967 she won the National Bank Art Award for a watercolour portrait of mother and child. The previous year she had been appointed to the University of Canterbury, School of Fine Arts, where she taught until her retirement in 1981.

Shortly after her death in 1990 she was posthumously honoured with the Governor General Art Award for her outstanding contribution to New Zealand art.

This stamp issue was a recognition and celebration of a wonderful New Zealand artist. It featured four quite different examples of her work spanning the period of 1948 to 1982.

Product Listing for New Zealand Art - Doris Lusk

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Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp

Single 40c 'The Lake, Tuai (1948)' gummed stamp.

During 1948 Doris Lusk visited friends living in the harsh remote landscape of Kaitawa, situated inland from Wairoa and as a result of her time there completed a small, but important, number of paintings relating to the vast Waikaremoana Hydro-electric Power Scheme. The Lake, Tuai, one of four Waikaremoana paintings, generates an uneasy feeling. This is partly due to the surreal white and green colour of the man made lake, situated in the Waitaretaheke Valley, and partly the result of a feeling of gloom cast across the whole scene – leaving the viewer with an overwhelming sense of isolation.

Single Stamp

Single $1.00 'The Pumping Station (1958)' gummed stamp.

Doris Lusk's most well known painting is The Pumping Station, 1958. Initially the building itself was designed to pump water from underground artesian wells and today, well over a century later, is an outlet for recycled materials. One underlying strength of The Pumping Station, 1958, lies in the compositional cohesion achieved through the careful interplay of diagonals, firstly, taken from the roof structure of the centralised building and repeated to create the folds of the golden yellow Port Hills behind. Doris Lusk was very familiar with the building as it is situated at the intersection of England and Tuam Streets in Christchurch close to where she lived.

Single Stamp

Single $1.50 'Arcade Awning St Mark's Square Venice (2) (1976)' gummed stamp.

The Arcade Awning St Mark's Square Venice (2) 1976 is one of a series of watercolours inspired by Lusk's visit to Italy, while on study leave from the University of Canterbury during 1974-5. Of the ten works in the series, completed on her return to New Zealand the following year, three depict awnings in the Piazza Maggiore, Bologna and the other seven are of awnings in St Mark's Square, Venice. It was always Lusk's intention that the series be viewed together (all 10 are now in the collection of the Auckland Art Gallery) highlighting not only the theatrical character of the raised and lowered curtains, but also to emphasise the repetitive nature of the actual awnings as they appear in St Mark's Square.

Single Stamp

Single $1.80 'Tuam St II, (1982)' gummed stamp.

'A revelation' is how, in 1979, Doris Lusk described the sight of a partly demolished Christchurch building bathed in late afternoon sunlight. Inspired, she photographed it and from this experience produced her first Demolition painting. Captivated by the possibilities of this unusual subject Doris Lusk went on to produce a substantial series consisting of watercolours, acrylics and collages. Three years later, the completed series was exhibited under the collective title 'Constructed Demolitions' – a title that aptly described her working methods.

First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $5.20

Technical information

Date of issue: 16 June 1999
Stamp designer: Hamish Thompson, Wellington, New Zealand
 Miniature sheet designer:  Stamp Business, New Zealand Post
Printer: Southern Colour Print, New Zealand
Stamp size: 44.29mm x 30mm 
Miniature sheet size: 112mm x 90mm
Sheet size: 100 stamps per sheet
Process: Lithography
Perforation gauge: 14
Paper type: 103 gsm red phosphor coated
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 15 June 2000.