Art a life­long pas­sion for Jo­hanna

Central Leader - - News - By Janie Smith

Walk­ing into Jo­hanna Van Mas­sop’s Hills­bor­ough home is like step­ping into an artist’s stu­dio.

The tiny cot­tage is filled with paint­ings that look like they should be housed in a gallery and half-fin­ished can­vases perch on easels.

Even the walls are painted with chil­dren play­ing by the ocean.

The 75-year-old has a life­time worth of art and tal­ent which is wait­ing to be dis­cov­ered by the pub­lic.

Friend Steve Har­ris met Jo­hanna nearly 20 years ago and says she has a lot of tal­ent which could help other New Zealand artists. He wants to help her get some recog­ni­tion for her work.

“We’ve talked about it for a num­ber of years but about eight months ago I thought, let’s do some­thing about it.”

They hope to put on an ex­hi­bi­tion of her work and sell some pieces.

Jo­hanna has painted on and off since her child­hood in Hol­land. World War Two started when she was seven years old and her home was in­vaded by the Ger­mans.

“They held my par­ents at gun­point and robbed ev­ery­thing. We were left pen­ni­less.”

Her brother, who cleared land mines for the re­sis­tance, was caught and killed near the end of the war.

At the age of 16 she en­tered a con­vent to be­come a nun, but poor health led her to leave. She trained as a nurse be­fore mov­ing to New Zealand in the 1960s, where she con­tin­ued her ca­reer and also started do­ing oil paint- ings of lo­cal scenery like Ran­gi­toto Is­land.

Re­mem­ber­ing the art of the old mas­ters like Da Vinci, Rem­brandt and Reubens, she also painted repli­cas of their fa­mous works in­clud­ing the Mona Lisa.

“I’ve also done quite a few orig­i­nals,” she says.

She is cur­rently dab­bling in sur­re­al­ism, while also paint­ing a por­trait for a fam­ily friend.

Dur­ing her life­long love af­fair with art, Jo­hanna has ex­per­i­mented with a range of me­dia in­clud­ing pen draw­ing, pas­tel, wa­ter­colour, acrylics and her favourite, oil paint­ing.

She had to give up nurs­ing af­ter two years be­cause of her health and went into dress­mak­ing but con­tin­ued to paint in her spare time.

“I’ve sold bits and pieces of my work and had ex­hi­bi­tions, but years ago. I’ve done por­traits and made a bit of a liv­ing off it but not re­ally.”

Now that she’s re­tired, Jo­hanna paints full­time al­though age has slowed her down.

“When you get old you get so slow. You get like a snail.”

She es­ti­mates about 90 of her paint­ings and draw­ings are scat­tered around the coun­try and she’s hop­ing to sell more.

“One of the goals is to get some recog­ni­tion and do up the house to be a bit warmer and more comfortable,” says Steve.

Some of Jo­hanna’s paint­ings are done from pho­to­graphs she found in news­pa­pers, like a large por­trait of for­mer prime min­is­ter Nor­man Kirk she did in 1975.

“It was a lit­tle black and white pic­ture in the news­pa­per of him sit­ting in a plane. I started sketch­ing him.”

The sketch turned into an im­pres­sive por­trait with South Is­land moun­tains in the back­ground.

Nowa­days she paints from her chair in the liv­ing room or while watch­ing TV.

Steve says he hopes to find some­one in the art world who can help get Jo­hanna’s work into the pub­lic eye. He can be con­tacted by email at di­rect 2ultd@par­


Life’s art: Artist Jo­hanna Van Mas­sop with some of her paint­ings she is hop­ing to sell.

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