Karl Maughan's favourite things

Painter Karl Maughan houses an eclectic collection of keepsakes in his Wellington studio.

Karl's series of paintings, entitled Panorama, broadens his perspective by incorporating mountainous backdrops of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. Picture / Rhett Hornblow.

Most of Karl Maughan's favourite possessions can be found in his studio. It's here, on Wellington's Mt Victoria, that he paints his signature sun and colour-saturated gardens, internationally renowned for their vivid, heightened aesthetic. From the loft-like space, he can look across the city to his house in Kelburn. "It makes me feel like I need a flying fox," he jokes.

Maughan is getting used to making Wellington home, after long stints in London and Auckland. But he has been back in Auckland for the opening of his new exhibition at Gow Langsford's Kitchener St gallery. The series of paintings, entitledPanorama, broadens his perspective by incorporating mountainous backdrops of Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe.

He says he's enjoying portraying a different side of the mountains, and not focusing on Mt Taranaki like many paintings do.

He shares his favourite things with us, each with their own sense of history. 


Second-hand art books; My palette. Pictures / Rhett Hornblow.

1. Second-hand art books
I've been buying second-hand books since the early 80s when I was at art school. There are some beautiful ones that have come out over the years. I buy new ones as well but there's something very nice about those from the 70s. I love the personalised things - someone has written in them, why they've sold them and that kind of thing. They're a great resource for work, looking at the ideas people have had over the years and what kind of work they've done through their lives.

2. My palette
I've had this for years. I bought it in England, it's an old type trolley from the Daily Mail. Three double pages of the paper would be typeset and put on hundreds of these trolleys and pushed down the corridor to the printing works. As soon as I saw it I thought, "wow, what a great thing. A big palette to put all my paint on". It's got a sheet of glass on the top, and is a great relic of the old days of printing. It's got history in it. There must have been hundreds of them around England and I found one in a shop in the East End. I'm never going to say goodbye to that.

Mystery bird magnets. Picture / Rhett Hornblow.

3. Mystery bird magnets
These are made by a guy in Dunedin. I've been in the odd craft shop here and there, and they've been in the corner, just one or two of them and that's it. I haven't been able to find out anything about the guy at all, except I'm told there's no way you can see him. He cuts them out of board, then carefully paints them. He does a beautiful job.

Early painting of chair; My great uncle's tin. Pictures / Rhett Hornblow.

4. Early painting of chair
This is one of my works from when I was in 7th form. It's a funny painting, I really riffed off Van Gogh's Chair, but what I like about it is that it's a really successful early painting of mine and the simplicity is great. I've always loved it. My parents framed it up for me in that funny 70s frame, which I quite like as well.

5. My great uncle's tin
My great uncle went to art school in the 20s in northern England, and this is what he had to make for first-year metalwork. He had to do the enamelling, cast the person in silver on the top, do all the beating and copperwork and welding. It's a very handy little box, actually. I didn't know the history, I just thought it was one of those things we had at home that we'd found somewhere in a shop, and then one day my dad told me the full story.

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