Beatrice Seddon

Beatrice Anne Seddon

New Zealand (1889 - 1987)

Beatrice Anna Wood was born in Christchurch on July 28th 1889, the third child of William Wood and Mary Theresa Loughnan.  Her mother died from Scarlet Fever three weeks later, but Bea made up for this by living for 98 years, until September 5th 1987.  Her life touched New Zealand life at many points.  There were links with the early European settlers on both sides of the family.  The first Wood arrived on one of the first four ships from England to Canterbury, in 1850 and he set up the first flour mill in Christchurch.  The first Loughnan arrived in 1868.

Her sporting and artisitic abilities were evident from an early age.  She represented Chrsitchurch at hockey on the right wing and was in the Christchurch A Team when they played Robert Falconer Scott’s team, before they embarked on a trip to the South Pole.  She also represented Canterbury in golf, playing as low as a two handicap.  She was a willing student of her brother B.B. who had been a New Zealand golf champion.  While at Rangi-Ruru school in Christchurch she showed great ability in art, and this was to become her great love, however at a finishing school in England she was also successful in gaining entrance to Oxford University in History.  However her Father thought this was no achievement for a woman, so she came home again, with a chaperone, via Cape Horn.      

Back in England at the outbreak of World War I, Beatrice served as a volunteer ambulance driver at the Aotearoa Club at Codford on Salisbury Plain.  Part of her role included caring for recuperating officers, which indirectly lead to a major turning point in her personal and artistic life.  Having contracted measles at Codford she went to St. Ives for a holiday, where she met and befriended Frances Hodgkins.

In 1921 Beatrice married Tom Seddon when she was 32 and he was the Liberal Member for the West Coast.  For their honeymoon, she joked, they were escorted by quite a crowd as Tom insisted on showing her the West Coast by horseback from Wanaka over the Haast Pass and the remote areas of his electorate.  As well as raising three children, Beatrice made time to pursue her artistic career, holding many ‘one-man’ exhibitions throughout the country.  An enthusiastic gardener, many of her paintings were inspired by the camellias and rhododendrons in her own garden at Wadestown Road, Wellington.  She was successful with selling many of her paintings to help with the family finances after the depression years.  She became well known as an artist and in 1971 Beatrice travelled to Norfolk, England to view an exhibition of Flower Paintings of the World where one of her own flower studies had been selected by the National Art Gallery to represent New Zealand.

Beatrice also enjoyed portraying the New Zealand landscape, particularly the West Coast of the South Island and her childhood home, Canterbury.  She travelled the North and South Islands on painting holidays and with her artist’s eye, she was always looking to recreate the countryside which she loved.