A long gaunt Colin McCahon towered above, 1978–98
acrylic on paper 640 x 930mm by Fergus Mcpherson Collinson
Photo courtesy of Potocki Paterson gallery
Much loved Primal Native Jazz Artist Painter
I first met Fergus Mcpherson Collinson a few years ago, when living in Newtown - Wellington. The artist resided in an old villa, jammed filled with paintings, hazardous piles of shoeboxes filled with photographs and sketchbooks. His tall lumbering frame and half-dyed-pink half-shaved off moustache captured my interest, as I’ve always been fond of eccentrics with style.
I never had the pleasure to get to know Fergus too well, though we’d banter when our paths crossed and I’d always admired his work - often furious brushstrokes, raw, full of movement and featuring a diverse range of topics - poetry, trains, people, landscapes, houses, flowers.
On one of these days I bumped into Fergus, I told him about my project - Opportunity Arts and how I wanted to introduce it to the world with an art show featuring work from the diverse voices of New Zealand. He was keen, and I was just thrilled at the chance to get to know him better and work alongside him. Unfortunately that wasn’t to be, and I was sad to learn of his passing in January of 2018.
I contacted some friends of Fergus to let them know about our conversations and that the offer still stood for Fergus to be included in the show. I was invited to Fergus’ whare during a working bee, where many friends were hard at work clearing out the garden and sorting through his numerous items. Greeted by Fergus’ friends, they were warm and welcoming, mourning yet committed to preserving and celebrating his life and artwork (which were seamlessly intertwined). I felt humbled to be there, flicking through sketchbooks and hearing stories. As I learnt more about Fergus, his art, his life, I felt a remorse that I didn't get to spend more time in his company and in his amazing home - an art hoarding labyrinth - paintings stacked on top of each other, fighting for the attention of my eye.
I asked Clyde, a dear friend of Fergus, what they would do with the overwhelming and stunning collection. He shared the desire to have it out there in the world - loved and living on peoples walls. I thought that the resources of Opportunity Arts could help. Opportunity Arts created an archival system and sourced a skilled volunteer - Abi Hart to systematically record all of Fergus’ work, preserving his memory and creations.
A large part of this collection is now for sale, with proceeds going towards establishing an artist in residency programme in Fergus Collinsons name. If you would like to purchase any of Fergus’ works, please get in touch and we’ll hook that up for you! We’re hoping to add some works to our online shop when that is launched. Ensure you are signed up to our mailing list as we’ll announce this launch then. Fergus also has a published art book ‘Bouncing With Billie’.
You can check out Fergus’ work and life story at www.fergus-art.com
Huge aroha to Clyde Clement, Abi Hart, Hannah Fraser, Nik Bullard, Peter Cowley, Elizabeth Brown and all of Fergus’ nearest and dearest - thank you for welcoming me in and being a part of this journey.