Neville Smitheram

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Born in Dunedin in 1962, Neville Smitheram attended Auckland University's Elam School of Fine Arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 1984. Following a decade of achieving critical and commercial success in Auckland, Smitheram decamped to Levin to concentrate on his artistic practice.

Much of Smitheram's painting is conducted in encaustic wax (a traditional painting technique in which pigment is bound in a mix of beeswax and tree resin). Following initial experiments withencaustic in the early 1980's, Smitheram found the medium uniqueand well-suited to his painterly style, despite the difficulties inits application and preparation. He has continued to utilise the technique as a mainstay of his artistic practice, the particular properties of encaustic contributing to a sense of serenity that threads its way through much of his work.

Smitheram's work balances abstract painterly concerns with the demands of the representation of landscape. Throughout his work, landscape is refined and defined, painted over and over untilpushed into a state of near abstraction so that it becomes etherealand elusive, an ideal rather than a perceived element. As his career has progressed, Smitheram's interest in the abstract has seen his work evolve to a quasi-topographical style whereby the landscape functions as the foundation for an investigation into the possibilities and limitations of the picture plane. In these works contoured grids float within the canvas, seemingly without substance yet still anchored to an invisible earth, a form poisedbetween perception and ideal.

Smitheram continues to produce work from his Levin studio and his works are included in major collections throughout the country.

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