Patricia I. Wilson

d. 2021

Also known as:

  • Patricia Wilson
  • Mrs P.I. Wilson

Patricia I. Wilson trained at the Dunedin School of Art at the same time as Colin McCahon and Doris Lusk, under Gordon Tovey and Robert Field. Later she taught art at the Dunedin School of Art and several secondary schools, including Stratford Technical, Southland Boys’ and Menzies College.

In her early days she operated a small business from her home in Seaward Road, Edendale (a small rural village of 600 in the lower-South Island), making feather mounts to sell to places such as Ballantynes Store in Christchurch.

Later, she wrote and illustrated children’s stories for TV shows including Jacabob and his Magic Pencil and Play School, sending her sketched stills and storyline by bus to DNTV2, 100 miles away. She created Radio Plays, wrote novels and history books, designed wrapping paper, and composed and illustrated School Journal and international newspaper articles.

Her son recalls scenes where screen printing was draped over the fence at home to dry, dyed wool was washed while standing in the shower, sculpture prototypes hung from the eaves, mosaics were on the wall and mobiles hanging from the ceiling.

One holiday she flew to Rarotonga and knocked on the door of a school, which resulted in her facilitating local stories for readers with the teachers, which she then illustrated and published in Cook Island Māori: unusual for the era.

She worked a lot in stainless steel, with two notable commissions in this medium being a budding flower for Southland Girls’ High School, and 'A Blade of Grass in Strength’ for the Invercargill Civic Centre.

In 1984 Patricia was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for public services to art and education.

Later, moving to Nelson, she created and managed ‘Story Grans’ for kindergartens and became Consumer Affairs spokesperson for the Citizens’ Advice Bureau, using her art to help train new staff.

Large oils became her preferred medium and she developed a distinctive style to suit NZ’s bright landscape. She exhibited in a number of galleries in Invercargill, Gore, Dunedin, and Nelson.

In her 90’s she moved again, to New Plymouth where she joined the Taranaki sketching group.

New Zealand Museums notes that: "At the time of the 80th Jubilee Celebrations of the Edendale Dairy Factory, Patricia designed the concrete sculptures which were placed at the Western and Northern entrances to Edendale. They were designed in the form of a 'tuning fork' with a shield depicting 'EDENDALE, HOUSE of NZ's CHEESE INDUSTRY, 1881 to TODAY, MAKERS of FINE CHEESE'. They still stand today although the De Boer family, on whose land one stood, altered the wording on one of the structures for a time, to 'Thank God For Jesus', but nowadays the sign indicates the 'Edendale Vintage Machinery Club'.

"Being a keen historian Patricia was the author of 'The Fresh Plains of Edendale' published in 1961."

See also:

Patricia Wilson, ‘A Blade of Grass in Strength’ (1971), Invercargill City Council, Waihōpai Invergargill

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