Shane Cotton

Shane William Cotton ONZM (born 3 October 1964) is a New Zealand painter whose work explores biculturalism, colonialism, cultural identity, Maori spirituality, and life and death.


Cotton was born in Upper Hutt[1] with Ngapuhi iwi affiliations[2] (his father a member of the Ngapuhi iwi and his mother European). Cotton studied at the Ilam School of Fine Arts in Christchurch, graduating in 1988 and then went on to gain a Diploma of Education from Christchurch College of Education.[2] After finishing his studies he lectured at Massey University, Palmerston North in the Maori Visual Arts Program until 2005 when he left to concentrate on his art practice full-time. He lives and works in Palmerston North.[1]

Cotton was the recipient of the Frances Hodgkins Fellowship in 1998. In 2008 he received a Laureate Award from the New Zealand Arts Foundation and was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the visual arts in 2012.[3] His work is highly sought after. He has received the Seppelt Contemporary Art Award from Sydney Museum of Contemporary Art, and has been exhibited at many leading galleries in Australia and New Zealand, as well as in Spain and Prague.[2] He was the New Zealand representative in the 2005 Prague Biennale and his work was included in the 17th Biennale of Sydney 2010.[3] In 2015 Cotton was commissioned by the Australian War Memorial to make a print to commemorate the ANZAC Centenary.[4] His work has been translated into a stained glass installation in St Joseph's Church, Mt Victoria, Wellington.[5]

Cotton's work includes both Maori iconography and culture, such as shrunken heads, mokomokai, and native birds such as tui, and European symbols and items. His paintings have explored questions of colonialism, cultural identity, Maori spirituality, and life and death.[1] Describing his practice Cotton says "Biculturalism, how our histories have been interwoven over time, things that have come out of that connection – culture, politics, societal living – have been the driving factors in my work."[6]


  • 2012 Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to the visual arts, in the 2012 Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee Honours[7]
  • 2008 Arts Foundation of New Zealand Laureate Award[8]
  • 1999 Te Tohu Mahi Hou a Te Waka Toi/Te Waka Toi Award for New Work
  • 1998 Ethel Rose Overton Scholarship; Sawtell-Turner Prize in Painting; Irwin Allen Hunt Scholarship; Frances Hodgkins Fellowship University of Otago, Dunedin; Seppelt Contemporary Art Award for visual arts, Museum of contemporary Art, Sydney.
  • 1991 Te Waka Toi Projects Grant
  • 1989 Wilkins and Davies Young Artist of the Year
  • 1986 Bickerton-Widdowson Memorial Scholarship

Selected solo exhibitions

  • 2014 Baseland, Christchurch City Gallery & Ilam Campus Gallery, Christchurch, The Voyage Out, Rossi & Rossi Gallery, Hong Kong
  • 2013 Shane Cotton: the Hanging Sky Campbelltown Arts Centre, NSW & City Gallery Wellington & Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna o Waiwhetu
  • 2012 Shane Cotton: the Hanging Sky, IMA Brisbane; Smoking Gun, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Melbourne
  • 2011 Supersymmetry, Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland
  • 2010 Smashed Myth, Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney; New Work, Michael Lett Gallery, Auckland; To and Fro, Rossi & Rossi Gallery, London
  • 2008 Coloured Dirt, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
  • 2007 Shane Cotton, Sherman Galleries, Sydney; Red-Shift, Sherman Galleries, Sydney; Helgoland,[9] Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
  • 2006 Shane Cotton, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington Shane Cotton, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
  • 2005 Pararaiha, Sherman Galleries, Sydney, New Zealand representative in the Prague Biennale
  • 2004 Shane Cotton Survey 1993–2003, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki, Auckland
  • 2003 Shane Cotton Survey 1993–2003, City Gallery Wellington; Shane Cotton: Recent Painting, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; Shane Cotton: Paintings,SOFA Gallery, School of Fine Arts, University of Canterbury, Christchurch; Shane Cotton: New Paintings, Brooke-Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
  • 2002 Powder Garden, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; Birds Eyes Views, Mori Gallery, Sydney
  • 2001 Blackout Movement, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland; New Paintings, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
  • 2000 Te Timatanga: From Eden to Ohaeawai, Dunedin Public Art Gallery; Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
  • 1999 New Painting, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch; Shane Cotton, Hocken Library Gallery, University of Otago, Dunedin New Paintings, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington & Mori Gallery, Sydney & Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
  • 1998 Local, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington; Shane Cotton, Gow Langsford Gallery, Auckland
  • 1997 New Painting, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch; Square Style, Mori Gallery, Sydney
  • 1996 New Painting, Anna Bibby Gallery, Auckland; New Painting, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
  • 1995 Shane Cotton: Recent Paintings, Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, New Plymouth; Te Ta Pahara, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch; Shane Cotton: Recent Paintings, Darren Knight Gallery, Melbourne; Ta Te Whenua, Manawatu Art Gallery Palmerston North; Fisher Gallery, Auckland
  • 1994 New Works, Claybrook Gallery, Auckland; New Painting, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
  • 1993 Collections: New Work by Shane Cotton, Hamish McKay Gallery, Wellington
  • 1992 Strata, Brooke Gifford Gallery, Christchurch
  • 1990 Nature Forms Myth, Last Decade Gallery, Wellington


  1. "Shane Cotton". Hamish McKay Gallery. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  2. "Artist Profile: Shane Cotton". Sherman Galleries. Retrieved 2 August 2014.
  3. "Shane Cotton". Creative Giants of Palmerston North. Palmerston North City Council. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  4. Hanfling, Edward (Winter 2015). "Painting the multiverse: Shane Cotton discusses the creation of pictorial words". Art New Zealand (154): 42–49 & 104.
  5. "St Joseph's Church". Studio Pacific Architecture. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  6. Blundell, Kay. "Artist 'humbled' to receive award". Retrieved 9 June 2012.
  7. "Queen's Birthday and Diamond Jubilee honours list 2012". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 4 June 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2019.
  9. "Helgoland". Brooke Gifford Gallery. Retrieved 17 March 2015.

Further reading

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