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Jean Horsley attended Elam School of Art before going to England and the Chelsea School of Art in 1934. Returning to Aotearoa because of the war, she trained as a physical therapist to earn a living, but her interest in art never flagged and she continued to sketch and paint, having lessons from Colin McCahon at WEA classes and at Summer Schools. At the end of the war, she began to travel extensively—to Japan, South Africa, and the United States of America. In 1961, she went to London, where she lived, painted, and exhibited for seven years, before moving to New York, where she remained for fifteen years. The main influence on her painting at this time was the work of the Abstract Expressionists, who changed her from ‘being a painter of scenes to try to come to terms with and to understand what modern art was about’. She returned to make her home in Tāmaki Makaurau in 1981.

Aotearoa New Zealand;
Date of birth
Date of death
Place of death
Tāmaki Makaurau, Aotearoa,