More information unearthed on artist

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An article in Friday’s Oamaru Mail about a mystery Oamaru painter has unearthed some more information.

Alfred Avery Forrester, of Oamaru, was found to be the artist behind a 1918 work depicting Anzac Cove, after a search by Jonathan Gooderham, of Jonathan Grant Galleries in Parnell, which now owns the work.

Former hairdresser Allan Browne came to the Oamaru Mail yesterday because the painting was in his salon for more then 50 years before he sold it for $20 to a Christchurch dealer.

Mr Browne, who worked at and later owned Steenie Browne Hairdressing Salon, said the painting was on display at the salon from 1942 until he sold the salon in 1992.

He took the painting to Christchurch to sell, but most dealers did not want it. However, he managed to find a place in Merivale which paid $20 for it, mainly because they wanted the oak frame, Mr Browne said.

Forrester’s daughter, Doreen Ormandy, who still lives in Oamaru, said she was surprised to have read about Mr Gooderham’s quest in the paper.

“I can’t believe it, to be really honest.”

The article in Friday’s paper stated that Mr Gooderham found Forrester was recruited as a reserve but it was not known what regiment he served in at Gallipoli.

Mrs Ormandy said her father was a quiet, unassuming man who had never been further north than Christchurch or further south than Dunedin.

He had never been to Gallipoli and would probably have painted the work from a photo his brother had taken, she said.

Forrester, born in North Otago in 1895, trained as an artist in Dunedin and Christchurch before helping found the North Otago Art Society in 1920.

Later, he lived in Oamaru, working as a painter and signwriter, and set up a studio where he taught his students landscape, flower and fruit painting.

He died in 1981 and is buried at the Oamaru Cemetery.

Mrs Ormandy said her father loved painting and many were done from pictures and photographs.

“I can remember him doing lots of painting.”

Mr Gooderham had made a substantial investment to secure the painting, yet it came with little information as to its history and previous owners.

The work was on display at the Auckland gallery along with 22 other military artworks until the end of last week.

By RUBY HARFIELD

PHOTO: RUBY HARFIELD

ART COLLECTION: Alfred Avery Forrester’s daughter Doreen Ormandy with several of her father’s paintings.