Scarlett Cibilich

Harry Culy

Ayesha Green

Lucy O’Doherty

Moniek Schrijer

Kāryn Taylor

Christopher Ulutupu

Erica van Zon

Denys Watkins

Bio | Denys Watkins

Born Wellington 1945

Lives and works in Auckland

Denys Watkins is a highly respected contemporary artist with a career spanning 5 decades. In the early stage of his career, he was widely regarded as one of New Zealand’s finest printmakers, a media since superseded by painting and watercolour. Watkins’ distinctive and ingenious abstract paintings show a keen fascination and curiosity about the world. While lately his attentions have focused more on environmental concerns, over his career he has drawn on a wide visual encyclopaedia of cultural references, taking source inspiration from any area deemed relevant or necessary to a particular composition or series. These include abstractions of coral; billowing mushroom clouds; Hindu Monkey Gods; the tangled roots of orchid plants; and an obscure lyric from a 1970s song.

Watkins taught as a senior lecturer at Elam School of Fine Arts from 1980-2011 and his work is held in several major collections throughout Australasia. He began his studies at the Wellington Polytechnic School of Design from 1962-64, and then in London at both the Central School of Art in 1967, and the Royal College of Art from 1968-70. He has been awarded multiple scholarships throughout his career, and was the recipient of the Artist in Residence programme at the Canberra School of Art in 1985, and the Sanskriti Foundation Residency in India, 2003. Recent exhibitions include a retrospective of his paintings from 2004 — 2016, Dynamo Hum, at COCA, Christchurch and Gus Fisher, Auckland and will soon travel to the Seargant gallery Whanganui 28 May — 25 August 2019.


Royal College of Art, London, United Kingdom, 1970

Central School of Art and Design, London, United Kingdom, 1967

Wellington School of Design, New Zealand, 1964


Senior Lecturer, Elam School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland, New Zealand: 1980 – 2011

Selected Exhibitions

Shutter Bug, Watercolours, Jhana Millers, Wellington

Dynamo Hum, Sarjeant Gallery, Whanganui


Kryptonite, Jhana Millers, Wellington

Dynamo Hum, COCA, Christchurch

Anticlockwise, Ivan Anthony, Auckland

Stop the world from spinning, KNULP Gallery, Sydney


Dynamo Hum, Gus Fisher Gallery, Auckland

Origin of the Species, Ivan Anthony, Auckland

Parlour Projects, Hastings


Painting: A Transtive Space, St Paul St Gallery, AUT University, Auckland


Dissolving Empire, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland

The Cedar, TSB Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland


Prince Philip Movement, RM Gallery, Auckland


Fairways and bunkers, 30 Upstairs, Wellington

Porous Moonlight, Papakura Art Gallery, Auckland


Lost in Space, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland

Snakepit, Auckland


El-dorado, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland

Mary Newtown Gallery, Wellington


Outside In, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland


OO town, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland


Jungle Book, Bath Street Gallery, Auckland

Mumbo Jumbo, Janne Land Gallery, Wellington


Heavenly Chance, City Gallery, Wellington

Water Colours/Lacquers, Avid, Wellington


Heavenly Chance, City Gallery, Wellington

Big Night Out, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland

Water Colours/Lacquers, Avid, Wellington


Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland


A Very Peculiar Practice, City Gallery, Wellington

Stop Making Sense, City Gallery, Wellington


Home Made Home, City Gallery, Wellington


Parkland, Hawkes Bay Art Museum


Parkland, Auckland Art Gallery

200 years of Landscape Painting, Auckland City Art Gallery


Conten/Context, National Art Gallery, Wellington


New Zealand Drawings, Auckland City Art Gallery

Awards & Residencies

Sanskriti Kendra Residency, New Delhi, India, 2003

Norsewear Art Award, 2003

Creative New Zealand research grant, 1997

Moet & Chandon Residency, France, 1994

Q.E.ll Arts Council Award, 1990, 1988, 1983, 1977

Transfield Prize, 1986

Canberra School of Art Residency, 1985

Waimairi National Print Award, 1982

South Pacific Travelling Arts Scholarship, 1978

National Bank Art Award/Watercolour, 1978

Te Awamutu Drawing Prize, 1975

British Council Scholarship, 1968–1970

Art Fairs

Hong Kong, 2015

Sydney, 2013

Auckland, 2011, 2016

London, 1989


University of Auckland

Rotorua City Art Gallery

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa

Govett-Brewster Art Gallery

Sargeant Gallery

Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch

The Dowse, Lower Hutt

Hocken Library, Dunedin

Chartwell Trust Collection

Manawatu Art Gallery

NZI Collection

Rutherford Trust ECNZ

Department of Internal Affairs

United Modern Masters Collection

Fletcher Challenge Corporate Collection

Australian National Gallery

Selected Bibliographies

Dynamo Hum: Denys Watkins: Selected Paintings 2004 – 2016, Rim Books, 2017

Contemporary N.Z. Art, 3. Caughey, Gow. David Bateman Ltd, 2002

Contemporary New Zealand Painting, Michael Dunn, Craftsman Press, 1996

100 New Zealand Paintings, Warwick Brown, Godwit Press, 1996

A concise History of New Zealand Painting. Michael Dunn, Auckland University Press, 1991

200 Years of New Zealand Painting, Gil Docking & Michael Dunn, David Bateman Ltd, 1990

New Zealand Art, A Modern Perspective, Elva Bett, Reed Methuen, 1986

Forty Modern New Zealand Paintings, Francis Pound, Penguin, 1985

An Introduction to New Zealand Painting, Gordon H Brown and Hamish Keith Collins