Otago Daily Times 08 January 2009
by Sally Rae
Peter Jean Caley might have exhibited his art around the world, including Dubai, the United States and the Florence Biennale, but he is feeling right at home in an old shop in Waimate's main street.
The internationally recognised artist regards himself as a "southerner", with strong family links to the South.
He has temporarily opened the shop in Queen St, which will remain open until the third week of this month.
He has been delighted by the response from visitors, who have been "quite stunned".
"This old shop appeals to me. This is sort of me. I feel comfortable in here. I've got the kettle in the corner and paintings over here," he said gesturing to some of his spectacular work.
Mr Caley has a passion for Maori culture and has a collection of large oil portraits of Maori.
New Zealand nearly lost the collection - he received a "magnificent offer" last year and nearly accepted.
The offer would have meant money would not have been an issue for the rest of his life, Mr Caley said, but he turned it down.
One of his most special commissions, a portrait of Witarina Harris, was officially unveiled last year.
Mrs Harris died in 2007 aged 101. Mrs Harris, then Witarina Te Miriarangi Parewahaika Mitchell, played Princess Miro in the Hollywood movie Under the Southern Cross, later known as The Devil's Pit, in 1929.
Mr Caley was asked to do the painting by Sir Howard Morrison and he said Mrs Harris' family and the public were thrilled with the result.
He had no idea why art critics "had a go" about the painting.
"I was thrilled. It had everything you could possibly ask for."
Negative comments from art critics in New Zealand were nothing new for Mr Caley, who defended his style, saying it was "certainly not chocolate box".
He had been advised if he stopped his portraits, his career would take off, but he could not.
"I can't. It's part of me," he said.
The critics needed to open their eyes and learn it was not photographic painting but a very modern style, he said.
He enjoyed the mysteries of abstract art, which he combined with realism.
Mr Caley would like to see a mixed cultural gallery established - showcasing Maori as well as Pakeha art - and Waimate was one possible venue.
Financial support would be needed, but whatever town it was done in, it would "go to the lights".
He could turn a gallery into an "icon", he said.
Mr Caley, who has travelled widely, said he had loved his life.
"I just do my thing and if it works and goes well, I'm happy. If it doesn't work and it goes badly, I'm still happy. I've always done what I feel I should do."
The Daily Post, Rotorua 12 June 2008
By Kelly Makiha.
Witarina Harris' son Stuart looked into the painted eyes of his mother and cried.
â€œIt bought tears to my eyes looking into her eyes again. Its like she is still alive' the Rotorua man told the Daily Post after seeing a painting of the 101-year-old, who died a year ago on Tuesday.
The painting is to be officially unveiled to members of the public today at a ceremony at the Rotorua District Council.
The idea to gift the city a painting of the prominent Te Arawa kuia came from Sir Howard Morrison, who arranged funding from First Sovereign and Ngati Whakaue Tribal lands.
Ngati Whakaue are yet to decide where the painting will go permanently but Sir Howard said he wanted the opportunity for the public to view it.
Geraldine artist Peter Caley worked on the painting last year after being asked by Sir Howard.
â€œI was in Rotorua and bumped into Howard at a cafÃ© in town. I said â€œMaybe it's time you had your portrait done. He said, â€œThere is someone I feel is more important to Te Arawa who needs to be painted, but I think you have only got six months'.
Sir Howard was worried about the failing health of Te Arawa's much loved kuia, who starred in a Hollywood film Under the Southern Cross, later known as The Devil's Pit, in 1929.
Mr. Caley traveled to Rotorua six times last year to be with Mrs. Harris before she died.
â€œShe didn't sit for me, Instead, I walked around Ohinemutu with her, I would Sit and talk to her, get to know her, sketch her, take photos.
But Mrs. Harris died before Mr. Caley finished the painting. She had been such a huge part of Mr. Caley's life for six months after her death shook the artist, resulting in him having to take a month off.
â€œI was frightened when I saw her in state that I wouldn't be able to finish the painting and capture her again.
But when he saw her he was overcome with emotion as if she was speaking to him, saying don't you dare think that.
The end result is a painting that her family says hauntingly captures her smile and emotion. It was revealed to a gathering of Te Arawa elders and family members on Saturday at Tamatekapua Meeting House, at Ohinemutu.
Mrs. Harris' only surviving brother, 84-year-old Sonny Mitchell, said he painting was typically her.
â€œI'm quite taken with it. It's lovely.
Sir Howard predicted the painting would become of national significance.
â€œYou can't put a value on it.
He remembered Mrs. Harris as a marvelous, marvelous woman.
â€œShe came to all the hui rain, hail or snow and sat right by the door in her chair.
He said the painting was a legacy and needed to be kept somewhere special where it would be seen and appreciated.
I would like to see it in the council buildings roped off next to (Ngati Whakaue carving) Pukaki because he is her direct ancestor.
The Timaru Herald 12 June 2008
A Geraldine artist's work has been nationally unveiled.
The portrait of Witarina Harris, QSM, by Geraldine artist Peter Jean Caley was exclusively shown for the first time at the Ohinemutu Marae near Rotorua on Saturday.
Tonight the portrait will go on display for public viewing in Rotorua organised by the district council. Caley will be at the function as guest of honour.
Witarina Te Miriarangi Parewahaika Harris was a film star, entertainer, and public servant who died in June last year aged 101. As a teenager she took a lead role as Princess Miro in a movie called Devils Pit, filmed by Universal Pictures.
Caley was commissioned by Sir Howard Morrison to complete the portrait in January last year.
He spent five months working with the historic woman up to the time of her death, then completed the work late October.
Caley said it was customary to wait a year before the unveiling out of respect for the deceased.
He said the work had (been) described by Rotorua mayor Kevin Winters as a "New Zealand masterpiece" and would stay in the council chambers for the next few weeks.
It will then go on a hikoi with the final resting place yet to be decided.
by Bethany Marett
Southland Times 14 July 2006
by Sonia Gerken
A painter whose work has been given to royals and is held in collections throughout the world is to be the guest artist at the Riversdale arts mixed media exhibition, which opens next week.
Peter Jean Caley, of Geraldine, will bring seven of his imposing oils to the exhibition and run a painting workshop when he visits the Northern Southland township.
Riversdale Arts president Lesley Clarke says while Caley may not be a household name, he is considered one of this country's leading artists.
A reproduction of his painting The Flutes was presented to Prince Charles during his last visit to New Zealand and the original sold for $60,000 in the United States this year.
Caley's painting of New Zealand's Black Magic yacht hangs on permanent display in Auckland's National Maritime Museum.
His work is best described as inspirational realism and his subjects include Maori portraits and artefacts, scenery, birds and animals, Mrs Clarke says.
In its 33rd year, the exhibition continues to be one of the largest mixed-media exhibitions in Southland and Otago.
About 90 artists from throughout the country have submitted almost 600 pieces for display and sale this year.
Among the work were pieces from Christchurch jeweller Koji Miyazaki, paintings by Karen Baddock and glass work by last year's guest artist Peter Viesnik.
"We keep trying to maintain a high standard," Mrs Clarke says.
The exhibition's reputation enabled it to draw from a wide variety of artists and organisers are always looking to support interesting new artists or locals, she says.
Organising the event is a big ask for the small group of volunteers but it is just a case of getting on and doing it, Mrs Clarke says.
The exhibition's popular invitation-only opening night at the Riversdale Community Centre is on July 21 and public sessions open from July 22 to July 30.
Timaru Herald 03 October 2004
Geraldine's newest gallery opened its doors on Saturday.
Situated in Talbot Street, The Caley Art Gallery is owned by Peter Jean Caley and houses his extensive collection of Maori portraits.
Officially opened by Timaru Mayor Wynne Raymond, the event featured a traditional Maori Challenge, songs and other Maori formalities.
The afternoon's events were followed by an evening of wine food and entertainment.
With passions for Maori culture and wildlife, Mr Caley has lived in Australia for 15 years where he attended an art school in Sydney. In 1998 he officially classified himself as a professional artist.
Mr Caley had previously opened a gallery in Otira. He says his sales are to international buyers
The Press 01 October 2004
by John Keast
Peter Caley's attention is caught between an unfinished art gallery and a voluminous marquee in the middle of Geraldine's pretty domain.
Both are works in progress. The marquee tomorrow night will host a party such as Geraldine has not seen for many years. Ministers of the crown will be there, an MP or two, and a welter of local body politicians.
Down the road, in Geraldine's main street, finishing touches are being put to the Caley Maori Art Gallery and Museum. It will be the focus of attention for Caley and his small staff as he brings his oil art to South Canterbury from the moister climes of Otira.
Caley ran his Caley art Gallery in Otira for two and a half years from a hall. But was unable to expand the operation because of a lease arrangement. Caley is announcing his arrival in style.
With the help of many sponsors, Caley and Master of Ceremonies Gary McCormick will woo a crowd of several hundred at a formal dinner, Caley tends to do things in style - hence the black tie dinner and the opening of the gallery by Timaru Mayor Wynne Raymond - and he makes no secret that his art makes money. The average price of his oil paintings, he says, is between $30,000 and $70,000, with some fetching $100,000. But, He says, with a regular supply of commission work, paintings are rarely for sale, let alone his Maori art.
He says his prized works will stay in the permanent collection in the gallery despite good offers for some works.
Timaru Herald 18 August 2004
by Janie Stewart
Geraldine is getting a taste of world-class art at the new location of the Caley Art Gallery. Formerly based in Otira, the gallery predominantly displays and sells the work of Geraldine master artist and oil painter Peter Jean Caley, who has exhibited at the Biennale Internazionale Dellâ€™arte in Florence with more than 800 other international artists.
The Otira gallery, which had 30,000 visitors in 2 years, became a tourist destination for overseas and New Zealand visitors seeking an insight into Maori culture. Peter Jean Caley and Tony Caley decided to move the gallery to Geraldine as they loved the area. Gallery co-owner and art director Tony Caley hoped the new gallery would attract a similar number of people in its new location. â€œPeople not only got a cultural experience, a lot had a spiritual experienceâ€ Tony Caley said.
Peter Jean Caley spent parts of his childhood in Geraldine, and his parents were married there. Of Kai Tahu descent, Peter Jean Caleyâ€™s passion for Maori culture is reflected in his series of Maori portraits which have been on display at Nga Hau E Wha Marae in Christchurch. None of the paintings in the series are for sale, despite an offer of $200,000 for â€˜Lisaâ€™, a portrait of a teenage girl. His work sells nationally and also to buyers in Europe and America, and he is quickly gaining an international reputation. He has accepted an invitation to exhibit in America next year, and his work will be shown in Texas, Arizona and New York. The new Caley Art Gallery opens officially on October 2, with a Maori opening ceremony performed by Arowhenua and Waihao maraes.
They plan to have Maori carving on both the inside and outside of the gallery, and will have several pieces of pounamu gifted to them for display. The public are invited to view the works on display and for sale at the gallery at 1pm, when wine and cheese will be provided. In the evening there will be an invitation only dinner for sponsors, buyers and guests, as a show of support and strength for the artist.
Around 200 people turned out for the opening of Peter Caley Art Gallery in the old hall in Otira. West Coast/Tasman MP Damian O™Connor cut the ribbon after a powhiri from a large group of Katiwaewae and Makaawhio runanga members and a welcome from Westland Mayor John Drylie. In applauding the initiative Mr O'Connor said he expected the gallery venture to turn around the paradigm that people had to move north to progress. Otira was the gateway to the West Coast and the gallery was well positioned on a tourist route and as part of anâ€ innovative little community. It was Mr Caley's dream to be part of the West Coast and to make it his home and it was good to see the dream realised,â€ Mr Drylie said. â€œI was here as a tourist last year and now I'm here for the long haulâ€ Mr Caley said. People stepped into a transformed hall that smelt of fresh paint and boasted displays of talented West Coast art and craft people. A separate gallery was devoted to Maori expertly painted in the style of the old masters. Mr Caley is pictured with his favourite painting, commissioned by the family of the portrayed Ko Mauria after she died in 1973 at the unconfirmed age of 110. Her greatest wish was that all Maori and all people should live as one, Mr Caley said.