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Michael Smither

Michael Duncan Smither CNZM (29 October 1939) is a New Zealand painter and composer.[1]

He was born in New Plymouth and was educated at New Plymouth Boys' High School and Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland. While studying he worked part-time in a car spray-paint shop, an occupation which introduced Smither to the use of lacquer-based paints.

In 1959, Smither returned to New Plymouth, working part-time in arts-related jobs. His first solo exhibition was in 1961. In 1963 he married Elizabeth Harrington, who is better known as New Zealand Poet Elizabeth Smither. The two have three children, Sarah, Thomas and Joseph.

Smither separated from Elizabeth and eventually divorced. For a few years he was married to Rachel McAlpine, a writer. Smither now lives at Otama beach on the Coromandel Peninsula.

Smither was also influenced by Rita Angus and Lois White as he was studying. He turned to them for inspiration.


Smither works in a variety of media - notably oils, acrylics, and screenprint - and on a variety of subjects. Domestic life is a major theme of many of his works, these scenes depicted with a rigorous yet idiosyncratic realism. A similar style is brought to his landscapes, many of which depict the Taranaki landscape around which he grew up. At least two of his paintings, The Family in the Van and Rocks with Mountain [1] have attained the status of iconic paintings in New Zealand.

His first solo exhibition was in 1961.

Smither was the recipient of the 1970 Frances Hodgkins Fellowship from the University of Otago. He is the patron of community art gallery "Real Tart" in New Plymouth.[2]

Music compositions

  • 21 Piano Pieces (1968–1978)
  • Four Pieces for violin and viola (1974)
  • Geometric Scores for piano (1975, revised 1976)
  • Polyphonic Chords for four players (1980); originally intended for 4 cellos
  • Cello for Pamela Gray for solo cello (1981)


Michael Smither had many books of his art, with just one of them being Michael Smither - Painter.


  1. ^ City Gallery Wellington Archived 2008-10-14 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 18 February 2009

External links