Art a lifelong passion for Johanna
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 email@example.com.
Life’s art: Artist Johanna Van Massop with some of her paintings she is hoping to sell.