A. Lois White

b. 1903d. 1984

Also known as:

  • Anna Lois White

Anna Lois White was born in Auckland. She studied at the Auckland University, School of Fine Art, graduating in 1927. A. J. C. Fisher, a young graduate from the Royal College of Art (London) had been appointed in 1924, bringing with him enthusiasm and an innovative curriculum with a focus on figure composition. Fisher's interest in narrative painting with social comment had a strong impact on White. Their relationship was enduring and Fisher would employ White as a part-time tutor from 1928, and support her toward a full-time teaching appointment in 1935. White continued to work at Elam till January 1963.

During the 1930s and early 1940s White was considered a mainstream and decorative artist with a significant national profile. But after the war her commitment to symbolism and figuration put her out of step with contemporary artists such as Colin McCahon, consequently White's high profile faded.

This began to change in 1977 when Wellington art dealer Peter McLeavey organised White's first solo exhibition and brought her work to the attention of the galleries and collectors. She was 74 years old.

The importance of her work continued to emerge till finally a retrospective exhibition, organised by the Auckland City Art Gallery in 1994, confirmed her status as a significant New Zealand painter. Public holdings of her work are in collections at the Auckland Art Gallery and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

See also:

A. Lois White, ‘Magna Carta Mural’ (1951), Refectory, Southwell School, Kirikiriroa Hamilton

Images: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2022