Garden with Child in Sandpit
c.1925, 430 x 360mm, Watercolour on paper
Maud Winifred Sherwood (née Kimbell) was born in Ōtepoti but moved to Te Whanganui-a-Tara while still a child. There, she began art studies and was taught by James McLauchlan Nairn, who—she wrote in her recollections—told her to ‘dash [the paint] on, slash it on, don’t be afraid of it! Let the world stare!’ His advice was obviously well heeded, because Sherwood’s work always exhibits a freedom and vividness that raises her far above those painters who labour carefully away producing only timid work.
In 1910, she made her first trip to Europe, taking classes in Paris and painting in Holland and Brittany. Like Frances Hodgkins, she believed that it was best for serious artists to work away from New Zealand, ‘because good, modern art is high above the heads of 999 out of 1000 New Zealanders’. In 1913, she established herself as an artist in Sydney, where, in 1917, she married a businessman named Sherwood.
She took classes at the Sydney Art Society and exhibited with various others. She left her husband in 1917. In 1925, she returned to Aotearoa for a comprehensive exhibition of her work at the Academy of Fine Arts, Te Whanganui-a-Tara. Between 1926 and 1933, she travelled in Italy, France, Spain, and North Africa. She exhibited in Paris, Rome, and at the Royal Academy in London. On her return to Sydney she showed her European work and received high praise, particularly for her daring use of colour.
Sherwood continued to paint and exhibit during the 1940s, having equipped herself with a caravan in which she made extensive trips in search of subjects. She died on one of these trips at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. Her work retained its freshness and verve into the artist’s old age.
A more extensive biography is available on Te Ara The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.