Exhibition celebrates beloved artist

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New Zealand artist Graham Percy was capable of communicating with children through his work in a very elevated way, which was unique, says Gregory O’Brien, curator of The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy exhibition.

Percy was born in Stratford, Taranaki in 1938 and became one of New Zealand’s best artist illustrators.

O’Brien said Percy was never well known in New Zealand because children’s book illustrators generally weren’t.

O’Brien also wrote A Micronaut in the Wide World – The Imaginative Life and Times of Graham Percy.

By the time Percy died in 2008, he had illustrated more than 100 books and produced many thousands of drawings.

“He had a really intellectual approach to it,” he said.

“There were no theories, just magic.”

O’Brien said, unlike other artists who made a reputation for one style, Percy adjusted depending on what he was illustrating.

“He was somebody who loved what he was doing,” said O’Brien.

Many didn’t know, but Percy was colour-blind, which only added brilliance to his work.

O’Brien spoke at the gallery last night about the exhibition and the conversation between the work and the audience.

The exhibition is at the Forrester Gallery until October 9 and features a large variety of his works.

By Jessie Waite