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Stanley Palmer

Stanley Palmer

Where we have no control…1

Gentle yet determined, Stanley Palmer makes colourful long exposures of oceans and skies, brush, beach, valleys, pastures, rock formations and off-shore islands. Constructing a personal vision of specific locations marked and shaped by memory, history and loss, Palmer’s oeuvre graciously encompasses New Zealand. From the coastlines of Westland and the Poor Knight Islands to the roads north of Puhoi; from Whatipu to Karamea, from Maganese Point to Coromandel to the East coasts. The fragility and isolation of remote areas is made present, as are the majestic volcanoes and the prior lives of central Auckland suburbs and industrial areas.

Virtuosic and innovative, Palmer’s printmaking stretches to capacity pictorial space as well as the potential of his materials. Using a process involving the engraving of bamboo sheaths, Palmer’s rich prints often demonstrate multi-layered urban spaces dense with industry and crowded with lives lived. A signature palette sees burgundy and rust-like colours often contrasted with burred and inky shadows as well as scarred and pale timbers and skies. Within these earthy prints trees strain and twist throughout fractured and stratified landscapes that nonetheless are always rendered with warmth and sensitivity. Iced skies return within Palmer’s panoramic and often quite large scale oil paintings. Slightly hazy, these landscapes seem not quite in focus, filtered through recollection and Palmer’s process of painting on linen over initial black and white sketches. Ever present is a combination of high-key blue skies and vivid green pastures with careful attention paid to the gracious curves of roads and coastlines and the contours of distinctive native vegetation and rock formations. There is an alternation between the cool colours of skies, sands and grasses to more earthed hues in roads, tree trunks and small architectural details such as corrugated iron sheds and power lines.

A sense of space and place is documented by Palmer again and again. There is a steely strength to his wistful cartography of absence and presence. Here the skies bear witness to dismembered structures, lost neighbourhoods and disappeared terrains are made visible once more, carefully conjured up in paint and prints. Imagined prospects and fictional vistas mix with historic suburbs, vanished countrysides and true topography, creating distinctive, melancholic and irresistable images.


Stanley Palmer (b. 1936) has been exhibiting since 1958 and has worked as a full-time artist since 1969. Palmer currently lives and works in Mt Eden, Auckland. Recent solo exhibitions include: Return Otago Peninsula (Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland, 2015), Gallipoli Remembered (Solander Gallery, Wellington) and Rags and Shreds (Melanie Roger Gallery, Auckland 2012). Palmer has exhibited extensively in both Australia and New Zealand and his work has been seen as far afield as Tokyo, Venice and Ljubljana, India. His work has featured in the large international touring exhibition Your Friend The Enemy which has toured Australia and New Zealand to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary. Palmer has received much recognition for his work with works held in private and public collections throughout New Zealand including: The University of Auckland, Auckland Art Gallery, Te Papa Tongrewa, and the Christchurch Art Gallery. Additionally Palmer has authored publications such as To the Harbour (2007) and is featured in the major monographs West (2000) and East (2009) with an accompanying text by Gregory O’Brien.

For additional information and a complete CV please contact the gallery.

1 Stanley Palmer ”I am interested in a lot of things at the end where the road peters out, the edge between the civilised and where we have no control… the oceans and the sky.”