From Spooners Range

Sir Mountford Tosswill (Toss) Woollaston 
New Zealand, 1910–1998
From Spooners Range 1974
oil on board, 1200 x 2700 mm
Collection of The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū: gifted 2012 by Peter and Hilary McLeavey and family, in memory of Jessica and Hilcote Pitts-Brown. ACC: 1156

This painting was gifted to The Suter by Peter and Hilary McLeavey. Peter McLeavey was Toss Woollaston’s art dealer. They first met in Greymouth, and when McLeavey opened his commercial gallery in Wellington in 1968, it was with an exhibition of Woollaston’s paintings.

Woollaston felt that McLeavey had brought a miraculous change to his life. Now he could paint full-time, with someone else focusing on selling his paintings. 

Many of Woollaston’s landscapes are conceived from a high vantage point, embracing more than the eye can see in one glance. From Spooners Range depicts the spectacular view looking towards Tasman Bay, taken from Spooners Saddle. With its earthy tones, Woollaston shows the ranges and valleys stepping down to the Richmond Plains, framed either side by the Wharepapa/Arthur Range and the Richmond Ranges. 

ArtWalk features three works by Toss Woollaston – From Spooners Range, Kiln Near Riwaka, and View from Takaka Hill.

Toss Woollaston

There’s a wonderful anecdote here, of Woollaston speaking at an 1985 opening event of an exhibition of his work.

The Group

The Group was an informal but influential art association formed in Christchurch, New Zealand in 1927. Initially begun by ex-students from Canterbury College of Art, its aim was to provide a freer, more experimental alternative to the academic salon painting exhibitions of the Canterbury Society of Arts. The Group exhibited annually for 50 years, from 1927 to 1977, and it was continuously at the forefront of New Zealand art’s avant-garde scene.

Many of the country’s best-known artists were associated at some time with The Group. Among these are Colin McCahon, Doris Lusk, Toss Woollaston, Rita Angus, Leo Bensemann, Philip Trusttum, and Douglas MacDiarmid. The influence of The Group was such that it is occasionally referred to as ‘Bloomsbury South’.

Installation Details

105 Montgomery Square
(Pomeroys Coffee & Tea)


Many thanks to the property owner and tenant for being part of ArtWalk.

Nelson City Centre ArtWalk is a joint project by Make/Shift Spaces and The Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū.