John Drawbridge

b. 1930d. 2005

Also known as:

  • John Boys Drawbridge

John Drawbridge was born in Karori and studied at the Wellington Teachers' Training College and Dunedin Teachers’ Training College. In 1957, on National Gallery Scholarship, he travelled to study at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, London, receiving a Diploma with Honours in Printmaking.

Returning to Aotearoa in 1964, Drawbridge tutored printmaking at the Wellington Polytech School of Design until the early 1990s. He lived in Island Bay in Wellington with the sculptor, Tanya Ashken.

He was considered one of New Zealand's most significant artists; famous for his murals in public places such as the foyer of New Zealand House in London in the 1960s, the Beehive in the 1970s, and for the New Zealand Pavilion at Osaka Expo 70.

Local attention for Drawbridge declined through the 1970s due to a perception of his 'internationalism.' In 1978 he was awarded an MBE, for services to art.

In 2002, Drawbridge received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from Massey University, and was later inducted into the Massey University Hall of Fame.

Since his death in 2005 Drawbridge's contribution to the New Zealand art scene is increasingly recognised. For example, in 2008 a book written by Dr. Damian Skinner and Robert Macdonald was published by Ron Sang.

See also:

John Drawbridge, ‘City’ (1983), City Campus, University of Auckland, Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland

Images: Bronwyn Holloway-Smith, Public Art Heritage Aotearoa New Zealand, 2021