The Fisher Gallery welcomes in the new year with an exhibition of the work by a remarkable New Zealand artist whose work was almost forgotten - Adele Younghusband. The exhibition, which opens on the 17th of January, features Adele Younghusband’s work from the collection of the Whangarei Art Museum. Included in the exhibition are paintings, drawings and prints by the artist on a range of diverse subjects, from portraits and still-life to works on religious subjects.
Adele Younghusband was born in the Waikato in 1878, and worked as an artist for much of her life, continuing to paint well into her 80s. Her life as a determinedly solo mother, pioneering business woman and free-spirited humanist throughout the deprivation of the Depression and World War II, was remarkable during the conservative period of the early and mid-1900s in New Zealand. As a young woman Adele adapted her skills to photography. Her parents reluctantly agreed to an apprenticeship at Harry Gaze and Co. as a photographic assistant and retoucher in Hamilton. This occupation was to become her economic mainstay. She married at 25 years old, and had three children. The marriage was not a success and with characteristic fortitude, she left her husband, taking the children with her to a new life in Whangarei after the First World War. Her estranged husband died two years later in Nelson. She was forty three years old, a solo mother and widow in unsympathetic times.
She returned to photography to support herself and her children. She is listed as a member of the Auckland Society of Arts in its records of 1909-13 and during the late 1920’s trained in Melbourne as an adult student. During the late 1920’s she trained in Melbourne as an adult student and a number of works form this period employ Sydney subjects. She is known for her work in the print media from this time.
Adele began to gain respect as a contributing artist to exhibitions country wide. She exhibited in Nelson and was involved in theatre and literary events in Whangarei. She also gained local notoriety as the first woman in the north to sport a new ‘bob’ hairstyle. Like Sir Toss Woollaston, Colin McCahon and Rita Angus, those who chose to follow the pathway of contemporary art ideas in the 1920’s, 30’s and 40’s, Adele Younghusband’s life was also a life of quiet heroism, misunderstanding and slender acknowledgement.
Fisher Gallery director, Candy Elsmore says that ‘the exhibition will have wide appeal to visitors - Adele Younghusband’s work is rich in colour, diverse in technique and in subject matter. Her portraits in particular show a wonderful warmth and sympathy for her human subjects.’