New Waikato Winter
1968, 1090 x 890mm, PVA on canvas
Ted Bracey was born in England to an English father and Russian mother. Shortly after the Second World War, his father died. He moved to Aotearoa with his mother and two siblings, initially living in Heretaunga Hastings, where he studied under Yvonne Rust at Hastings High School. From 1955 to 1959, he attended the University of Canterbury’s School of Fine Arts, where he was influenced by W. A. Sutton and by Rudolph Gopas’s abstract expressionism.
Having graduated with a Diploma in Fine Arts, Bracey left Ōtautahi in 1959 to train as a secondary school teacher in Tāmaki Makaurau. He taught in Ōtautahi for a period, then travelled to the United States of America to study at the University of Oregon. In 1966, he became senior lecturer at Hamilton Teachers’ College. He and his young family lived in nearby Cambridge. He also taught at the University of Tasmania in Hobart. From 1974 to 2001, he lectured at the Ilam School of Fine Arts, rising to the position of head of the same. In 2003, he retired to the Waikato, again settling in Cambridge. He suggested the town had a ‘friendly twilight’ feel.
Works by Bracey are held in major collections throughout Aotearoa. An early piece, Painting (City Within) (1959), showing the influence of cubism, is at Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetū (2002/211). The work ‘nearly became the first purely abstract painting to enter the city’s art collection. Its modernity, however, proved a stumbling block when city councillors controversially overruled the Gallery’s art advisory committee recommendation to buy it.’ It was eventually acquired in 2002, following the artist’s retirement from Ilam.