Colin Wheeler 1919 -2012


One of North Otago’s most acclaimed artists, Colin Wheeler, died last week.

Born in Dunedin in 1919, he studied at the Canterbury School of Art and Camberwell School of Arts and Craft in London.

He moved to Oamaru in 1951 to work as art master at Waitaki Boys’ High School. Former pupils have very fond memories of his class.

I once had the privilege of visiting him in his home. He was a very modest man but his enthusiasm for his art and knowledge of the subjects he painted was inspirational.

His books of paintings of historic sheep stations which were first published in the 1960s were very popular and he has left a huge legacy of paintings of rural New Zealand.

His work also established a record of North Otago landscapes and buildings and an invaluable collection depicting Oamaru scenes. He gifted many of his paintings to the Forrester Gallery, some of which can be seen here.

His contribution to art was recognised with a Queens Service Medal.

The Artist’s Room also has examples of his work.

The Oamaru Mail pays tribute to him here and this website has more on his career.

Unexpected art


 The Countrytime Hotel at Omarama was built about 30 years ago.

It’s often used as a central place for meetings for people from Southland, various parts of Otago and Canterbury.

The building’s a bit tired but the staff are pleasant and it boasts a wonderful display of murals by Colin Wheeler.

My photography doesn’t do them justice:

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Colin Wheeler at the Opera House


Colin Wheeler has been painting for more than six decades and much of his work features North Otago landscapes and buildings.

He is a prolific and generous artist and has donated a large number of his paintings to the town’s Forrester Gallery .

Twelve of his paintings now grace the foyer of the newly re-opened Opera House, a gift from former Oamaru resident Eleanor Sweeney.

My photography doesn’t do them justice:



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