Dunedin from Maclaggan Street, Otago: Taken from My Lodgings, Clifton Villa
1862, 370 x 590mm, Watercolour on paper
Richard Seymour Kelly was the eldest son of Captain Richard Kelly and Sarah Pawley of Hythe, Kent. Clearly a man with an adventurous nature, he left home on 16 October 1836 at the age of 18 years, sailing on the Osbert for Dominica in the West Indies. He returned to England after three months and worked for the Darlington Railway Office. In 1842, he travelled to Jamaica, where he set up as an engineer, filling his time painting and writing poetry. In 1843, he returned to England, but he travelled again in 1851, this time to Canada. Here, for a short period, he took up a position of tutor in English and drawing at University of Victoria College, Coburg, West Canada.
Kelly’s next journey was to Macau, followed by another to Australia, during which his ship was wrecked off the coast of Brazil. It was 11 days before the crew and passengers were rescued and Kelly spent the time recording the wreck and surrounding landscape, painting on salvaged pieces of the ship’s canvas. Four years after his 1852 arrival in Australia, he married and, on losing his job with the Public Works Office, decided to try his luck in Aotearoa. He arrived in Ōtepoti in July 1862, travelling to Christchurch on 15 August 1862. There, he was employed in the Public Works Office. He was joined by his wife and two children, and the family settled into their Madras Street home. A notice in the Press (25 October 1873, 2) states that he died on 24 October 1873 aged 53 years.