No Ordinary Plain: Seeing and Unseeing the Taieri with McCahon
There are three recorded moments of Colin McCahon encountering the Taieri Plain. In 1936, as a schoolboy, he experienced an epiphany looking over the Taieri from the coastal hills. Six years later, in 1942, he painted Sketch for landscape from Flagstaff, depicting the plain from a northern perspective. In 1966, he famously recalled his early epiphany in an essay entitled “Beginnings.” In this essay, I bring a sociohistorical and personal perspective to these three moments, arguing that knowledge of the details that McCahon was seeing and unseeing in his 1942 sketch bring nuance to our understanding of his early development.
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