Grant was born on 12th December 1937 in Sydney, only to return to New Zealand one month later. He grew up and was educated in Wellington, attending Wellington Technical College, taking the art course under Fred Ellis, from 1951 to 1955. From 1956 to 1958 Grant attended Wellington and Dunedin Teachers Colleges, completing a third year in Art and Craft specialist training before joining the Wellington Education Board's Art and Craft specialist service.
Grant was awarded an overseas bursary from the Department of Internal Affairs to study Child Drama in England, which he did from 1961 to 1964. On his return to New Zealand he tutored at Nola Millar's New Theatre School, (which later evolved into the QEII Drama School and later still into the New Zealand Drama School), where he was a senior acting tutor until 1988. At this time, he also pursued a free-lance acting career at Downstage Theatre and later at Circa Theatre, where he was also a theatre designer and director.
During the 1970s and 1980s Grant worked as an illustrator for David McGill's articles in The Evening Post - "Cityscapes" and later "Harbourscapes" and then on his own column "Drawing On History". The articles charted the changing face of Wellington's urban landscape. It was the late John Drawbridge who suggested that some 1964 drawings of Wellington be published, which led to his first book of drawings, "The Old House Town". He later encouraged Grant to mount his first ever and highly successful exhibition at Harry Seresin's Settlement Gallery.
Eye trouble meant that Grant was no longer able to see well enough to draw buildings from across the road, so he took up wood working (mainly to keep his hands busy), specialising in painted and decorated boxes, chests and trunks.
In his work entitled 'Street Seen: Double Colonial White' some of the houses and birds appear as upside down images. The idea is that you are walking up the middle of the street looking at the houses on either side. These works are the result of Grant showing a three dimensional experience in a two dimensional way. The presentation didn't have to be 'realistic' because - to paraphrase David Hockney - what you see in this exhibition is an account of Grant's experience and his continuing interest in and affection for Wellington's Victorian and Edwardian architecture as we see it today. All except for the Te Aro Bowling Club building still stand. It was demolished soon after it was initially drawn in 1976. Grant likes the idea of it existing still - if only in this form.
Grant was also intrigued by the name Resene has given to the base colour he's used for all the buildings. It seemed to be strangely appropriate to Grant's thoughts as he worked - hence the subtitle of the exhibition: Street Seen: Double Colonial White.
Contact Grant via the South Coast Gallery.
Street Seen: Double Colonial White
A selection of Grant's other work:
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