It has been 15 years since Watts Davies last exhibited his work in a solo show.
Because, the Oamaru artist says, no galleries had asked him to.
The Tower of Babel and other works opened at Art on Tyne last week and brings together art Davies has created over the past 20 years – from his latest work in The Tower of Babel series, to pieces brought out from the archives.
“It’s the first time a gallery has asked me to exhibit since the last one,” he said.
“At my age, time tends to kind of telescope a bit, depending on which end you’re looking through.”
Art has always been part of Davies’ life.
“It was the only thing I was ever any good at school.
“I just was fascinated by putting pencil lines on paper, water colour, messing around with oil paints.
“I just love making marks on paper, canvas – it’s just magical, I don’t get tired of it.”
Davies is originally from the UK, and moved to New Zealand in 1996.
“My late wife had family in Waikouaiti and we were going to drive up the coast, and we were thinking [of settling in] Banks Peninsula.
“But we arrived in Oamaru, down that lovely avenue with the trees, with the sea in the background … and we thought ‘this will do’.”
Oamaru’s Victorian buildings had inspired a lot of his work, including the towers in his new exhibition at Art on Tyne.
“I painted the Criterion [Hotel], Tyne St, Harbour St, and the council offices about 100 times and I thought really paint them again?’ so I started inventing my own buildings, made out of bits of Oamaru stone things,” he said.
“I must admit it was some years ago I sort of thought done enough of these’, but somehow I’ve stuck with it. There’s something about the towers that is just appealing.”
His first solo Oamaru exhibition was at the Forrester Gallery and was “completely abstract works”. That was followed by North Otago Coastal about 15 years ago, also at the Forrester Gallery.
Despite not exhibiting solo since then, he has continued to paint and sell art through Donna Demente’s Grainstore Gallery and Art on Tyne.
Art on Tyne owner Philina Den Dulk had admired Davies’ work since she moved to Oamaru eight years ago.
“I’m so thankful that he has trusted me to come out of his retirement to produce a collection of work that, I must say, is bloody brilliant,” she said.
The Tower of Babel and other works is open until the end of the year. All works are for sale.best Running shoesNike Air Force 1 07 Khaki Dark Green Medium Olive /Black-Starfish