Woollaston Estates, 243 Old Coach Rd, Upper Moutere, Tasman 7152, New Zealand
Sir Mountford Tosswill "Toss" Woollaston (11 April 1910 – 30 August 1998) was one of the most important New Zealand painters of the 20th century.
Born in Toko, Taranaki in 1910, Woollaston attended primary school at Stratford, and Stratford Technical High School. He studied art at the Canterbury School of Art in Christchurch. One of his teachers at the Canterbury School of Art was Margaret Stoddart. He became interested in modernism after moving to Dunedin to study with R N Field.
In 1934 he settled at Mapua, near Nelson, and married Edith Alexander two years later. He had also a longtime relationship with Rodney Eric Kennedy. They became part of a circle of local artists and writers which included Colin McCahon. After World War II the Woollastons moved to Greymouth, and the landscape of the West Coast became a major feature in his art.
It was only from the 1960s that Woollaston was able to paint full-time; previously he had taken numerous part-time jobs to support himself and his family.
As well as painting, Woollaston wrote, poetry in particular having been a lifelong passion. His books included The Far-away Hills in 1960, and Sage Tea (his autobiography) in 1980.
He was made a Knight Bachelor in the 1979 Birthday Honours, being the first New Zealander to be knighted for his services to art (Peter Siddell being the second).
His youngest son Philip Woollaston was the (Labour) Member of Parliament for Nelson from 1981 to 1990.
Woollaston died in Upper Moutere on 30 August 1998 at the age of 88.
BACK TO HOME PAGE