Celia Wilson



2004 – 2007   Elam School of Fine Arts,  The University of Auckland.  Bachelor of Fine Arts

2008   School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury. BFA Honours (Painting)

New Zealand citizen by descent, permanently living in New Zealand from 1986, after many years moving between the UK, Australia and New Zealand.

Since 2007 I have been researching the availability and the historical and current uses of earth, mineral and plant pigments in New Zealand, mainly those of Canterbury, Banks Peninsula, Hurunui, and Otago, with the cataloguing and recording of colours being the methodology. These colours I use through painting, printing, book binding, and papermaking with the intention of showing pigments as colours found at a location.

With my pigments I usually make watercolour paint with gum arabic and honey as the main binder ingredients.  I also use colours obtained from plants – roots, leaves and flowers – from gardens in Oxford. I have experimented with sustainable colour via solar dyeing and the steam printing of plant colour on to paper (‘ecoprinting’).

I find the watercolour medium brings out the characteristics of the rock pigment particles – some are opaque, some are transparent – and, as the pigment is unrefined, there are often hidden colours which can be revealed as the particles diffuse and settle into place on the paper.

In hand-ground paint the larger and irregular particles, plus the additional minerals or chemical substances embedded at molecular level, have the effect of reflecting a wider part of the spectrum.  It has been shown that this creates a more intense colour than a synthetic colour which reflects a narrower part of the spectrum. The use of natural plant dyes is an eco-friendly practice, the dyes are safe for body contact, while the colours are beautifully unsophisticated and harmonised with nature.  The uniqueness of each batch of colour is also a characteristic I value.

My interest in nature stems from a curiosity of how land is formed, and how humanity has changed both the land and its biota. A practical involvement with the land in Paparimu, near Hunua, (since 1989) has included the design, establishment and running of a certified organic orchard for ten years until 2007.  I am now living in Oxford, North Canterbury and volunteer at the Arts in Oxford Gallery helping with exhibition installation.

Selected exhibitions and workshops

2020     Christchurch City Art Gallery, Paint Making Workshop for Adults,   26 October

Open House, on Fridays/Saturdays/Sundays between 17 July to 13 September, Arts in Oxford Gallery.  Seven printmakers working in the gallery’s main exhibition space to encourage and provide broader connections  between artists/creatives and  communities.  This to be achieved by inviting visitors to view and discuss works in progress with the artists, watch demonstrations of techniques, and inviting other artists to attend and join-in on a casual basis.  Printmakers are Kathy Anderson, Jo Ernsten, Casey Macaulay, Ruth Stanton McLeod, Kris Waldin, Tessa Warburton, Celia Wilson.

2019     Canterbury Colours Workshops for Adults and Children, Turanga, Christchurch City Library, 13 January

Oxford Papermaking Group, showcase exhibition of handmade paper and how it can be used, 27 July to 11 August, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

2018    Locality, group exhibition exploring location, materiality & positioning with Mark Adams, Tony Bond, Mike Boot, Cheryl Lucas, Elfi Spiewack and Tessa Warburton.  9 June – 10 July, Arts in Oxford.

Paintmaking Workshop, 23 June, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

2017   From the Rivers to the Shore, 10 June – 18 July,  group exhibition curated by Celia Walker, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

#TheFlockWorkshops, in connection with BRaid, 30 May – 16 June.

 Sanctuary, group exhibition for Artists Against Slavery, Arts in Oxford Gallery, 28 October – 29 November.

2016   Accumulative, group show with Ruth Killoran, Ruth McLeod, Rachel McRobb and Kris Waldin, Arts in Oxford Gallery, 8 October – 2 November.

Paintmaking Workshop, 23 October, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

2015   Kidsfest, Artists Book Cover and Bookmaking Workshop with Tessa Warburton on 15 and 16 July, Arts In Oxford Gallery.

Hot Off the Press, group printmaking exhibition with Gaby Reade, Heather Maxwell, Ruth Stanton McLeod and Sue Alexander, July/August, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

Paintmaking Workshop, 1 November, 2015, Arts in Oxford Gallery.

2014   Kidsfest, 5 – 23 July, 2014. Paint making Workshop on 15 July. Arts in Oxford Gallery.

2013   Colours from a Landscape.  Solo exhibition.  Dunedin Botanic Gardens, in association with The Blue Oyster Gallery, Dunedin.

2012   Colour of Distance.  Group exhibition with Helga Goran, Kim Lowe, Jocelyn Mills and Cristina Silaghi.  Papakura Art Gallery.  3 March to 7 April, 2012.

Sense of Place.  Group exhibition with Helga Goran, Kim Lowe and Cristina Silaghi. Hastings City Art Gallery.  28 July to 9 September, 2012.

Land | Scape.  Group exhibition curated by Tracey Williams.  Papakura Art Gallery.

2010    Colours from the Earth.  Solo exhibition. The Chamber Gallery, Rangiora, 2 May to 2 June.

Forms of Attention.  Group exhibition with Helga Goran, Kim Lowe and Cristina Silaghi.  The Arts in

Oxford Gallery, Oxford.  24 October to 21 November, 2010.

2008   Postgraduate Conference, 10 October, 2008, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury.

Presented Out of the Ground, a talk on my use of Canterbury pigments and their place in my artworks.


“Studio Work”, Oculus, Postgraduate Journal for Visual Arts Research, University of Canterbury Department of Art History and Theory, 1, (2009): 56-57.

Forms of Attention.  Catalogue to accompany exhibition at Arts in Oxford Gallery, 2010.

Colour of Distance.  Catalogue to accompany exhibition at Papakura Art Gallery, 2012.

Experiencing Distance:  Creative Explorations.  Contribution to educational supplement to exhibition Papakura Art Gallery, 2012.

Sense of Place: Distances: Passages, Conjunctions.  Catalogue to accompany exhibition at Hastings City Art Gallery, 2012.

Fragile Paths, Proximities and Distancesin “Dwelling and Sharing: Places in Experience”.  Educational supplement to Sense of Placeexhibition Hastings City Art Gallery, 2012.

Tessa Laird, From the I-Land.Publication to accompany the group exhibition LAND| SCAPE, Papakura Art Gallery, curated by Tracey Williams, 2012.

“Canterbury Colours”, Turkey Red Journal, Vol 22, Issue 2, Spring 2018


The James Wallace Arts Trust <>

Private collections in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and China.

1 reply to Bio
  1. Dear Celia,
    Here I am at Piha for Easter, diving into the beauty you have shared with nature!
    Please have a look at Earthskin for the Environmental Residency opportunity which I would love you to apply for.
    I also was born in 1946.
    Such lucky people to be so part of this amazing natural world!

    Love and blessings

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