JOHN TOOMER | BIO < back to artists

Born in Dunedin in 1956 and educated at Kings High School, John Toomer left school and was involved in the retail sector from 1973-1988, during which time he was the owner / operator of Cookham Shoe Store in Dunedin.

Self taught with no formal art training, John has been painting professionally for over 30 years.  He has built a reputation as one of New Zealand's premier realist artist's of old dilapidated buildings, buildings in landscape and a painter of 'brooding' skies.  Subject matter is usually found in Otago and the surrounding Southern regions.

Painting's are well planned and highly detailed, offering the viewer a dramatic interplay of start settings and serene moods intensified by his expressive handling of light and shadow.  His structures are often placed as isolated focal points, almost confronting the on-looker & providing poignant reminders of the past and of the human interacion with the land. 

John has held five solo exhibitions with The Artist's Room Fine Art Gallery - and 13 overall - with eight of these solo shows being sell-outs.

He has also participated in a number of invited artist exhibitions and has been a regular exhibitor in most Otago Art Society exhibitions since 1974.

John has been a member of the Otago Art Society Inc Council since 1990 and held the position of President for four years from 1993 - 1996. In recognition of his service to the OAS John was made a life member of the society in August 1998. He also served On the executive of the Dunedin Community Arts Council - holding the position of deputy Chairman for two years.

As well as winning several awards over the years, Toomer's work is held in many private and corporate collections across New Zealand and overseas.

In 1998 he was commissioned by the Dunedin City Council to paint the city / harbour view from Robin Hood Park to commemorate Otago's 150th Anniversary. This was the same scene as painted in 1948 by Peter McIntyre for the 100th Anniversary, and by Robert Hawcridge for the provinces 50th anniversary. The original painting is currently hanging in the Mayoral Chambers of the Dunedin City Council. (A limited edition print was produced).

Painting in both acrylic and oil-his earlier work featured coastal, rural & mountain scenes of Otago and the surrounding Southern Regions. His current style is described as 'contemporary realism' and the subject matter features still life objects; old & run down buildings consisting of either homesteads, country stores, churches and railway stations. John thrives in using his unique technique to achieve meticulous detail using oils. His art is a dramatic interplay of stark settings and serene moods intensified by his expressive handling of light and shadow on rural themes.