Silk screenprint on Archival paper - Edition 22 of 88.
360 x 280mm.
About the artwork
'Family in the Van'
In 1969 Smither, his wife Elizabeth and their children Thomas and Sarah, arrived on an artist’s pilgrimage journey from Taranaki to reside in a farm cottage in Patearoa on the Maniototo Plains of Central Otago. Smither was 30 and by then already known for his 1968 painting of Mt Taranaki with its ice-cream white peaks rolled over rugged rocks. Michaels paintings from their year in Otago charted his journey from his childhood memories of holidays in Central mixed with inspirations from regionalists such as Rita Angus landscapes in the 1930’s. The Family In the Van painting (1971) could represent the impact that year had on Smither as “the story of an outsider who flees suburban propriety of Taranaki into the Otago landscape representing both desert and paradise, both at once a test and a source of sustenance: Exodus country, survivors, pilgrims, refugees from the straight and narrow. The family are poised halfway between the lure of space and comfort of home, and they stare out at us with gazes that feel bottomless.” The painter and husband gazes back. The upholstery mimics the curve of the waves in the hills behind. The van is an old ambulance that Smither used as his studio. Here the van becomes a vessel for a family in flight, a symbol of loneliness of long-distance travellers.
Michael Smither CNZM 2017.
Free of charge within New Zealand.