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Conversations with iconic people

Episode43

Greer Twiss

“I like the transition between one thing and another…making sculpture that says something about the object and also about the material”

Preview / 00:01:11

Full Episode / 00:46:34

In This Episode

This interview features the godfather of contemporary sculpture in New Zealand, Greer Twiss.

Rodney Wilson interviews Greer and the two traverse his remarkable career, from puppetry to art school, teaching and the development of his sculptural practice which spans over 50 years.

Greer Twiss – ONZM - Biography

Greer Twiss is the "Godfather" of contemporary sculpture in New Zealand. For more than 50 years he has made sculpture, exhibited, been collected, been commissioned, taught, been reviewed and written about - without interruption.

The development of New Zealand sculpture post World War II cannot be considered without the massive contribution of Greer Twiss as artist and as teacher. From a childhood interest in puppetry that saw him performing to audiences as a child and as a pioneer of television in this country, his making of figures evolved into the early cast bronze athletes that his reputation as a sculptor was built on.

Rapidly Greer emerged as a pioneer of cast metal in New Zealand, and as the figure head of contemporary sculpture. A major public sculpture group, in bronze, commissioned for Karangahape Road by the Auckland City Council secured his youthful reputation as a leading figure in the New Zealand contemporary art scene.

Greer has remained always inventive, returning frequently to cast bronze as a favoured medium but working in wax, sheet lead, sheet galvanised iron, wood and steel.

He has exhibited widely here and abroad and has been the subject of two major retrospective exhibitions by the Wellington City Art Gallery and Auckland Art Gallery. Soon after graduating from the University of Auckland's Elam School of Fine Arts he returned as a teacher, becoming an Associate Professor and Head of Sculpture. Not only has he been a powerful and persuasive figure as an artist, but he has shaped and stimulated the talent of generations of students who have passed through his studios.

Greer is still a producing artist whose work remains inventive and vigorous.  He was made an ONZM for Sculpture in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2002 and received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2011. 

(Dr Rodney Wilson. from Arts Foundation website)