May Iremonger - Tribute

May Iremonger

Artist, Poet, Potter.

Passed peacefully on 8 March 2017. Aged 97 years.

From early beginnings as a World War ll wireless operator in Britain, to the environs of a life more quiet in Raumati Beach here in New Zealand May lived a life punctuated by a passionate involvement with more than one genre of the arts.

From poems ‘The Gangster’ in 2001 to ‘As I crossed a bridge of dreams; I write in invisible ink’ in 2003, May has written and painted emotional, diverse works that are ablaze with colour, wit and vigour.

As an elected artist member of the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, May had been one of our longest standing artists and continued to show at our exhibitions for well over 30 years and with no signs of lessening her contributions.

Using her favorite colour of Indigo, she exhibited in our featured Going Solo exhibition in 2003, which calls on artists to produce a body of works specifically for the occasion.

2011 marks the year in which May received a salutation from the Academy acknowledging the quality and diversity of her work, in an exhibition appropriately named ‘ Songs of the Sea and Land ‘. May produced a pastel on this occasion called ‘Portrait of Ralph Hotere’. It was yet another example of her extensive artistic ouevre and wit.

Although she has received many awards May was an artist whose artistic expressive style could have been misunderstood or even not valued in the way it was deserved. This is the plight of many an artist in NZ as our cultural understandings continue to develop and our appreciation of high individuality becomes more comfortable in society.

May was indeed a hardworking, enlightened and deeply committed artist. Her paintings will live on, but those of you who had the privilege to know her personally will remember her as a remarkable woman and friend.

Tribute by Greg Chaston, President of the Academy of Fine Arts Wellington.


"Blue" - Watercolour                                                                    "Portrait of Ralph Hotere" - Pastel

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