Iconic New Zealand artist, Piera McArthur, was born in Ramsgate, England, where her New Zealand father, a member of a famous medical dynasty of the Monros, practiced for eleven years, after taking his FRCS in Edinburgh. The family moved back to their native New Zealand in 1938.
There the young Piera would foster her love of art and drawing. After completing her schooling at Erskine College, Piera took up a Scholarship at Victoria University and received a Master of Arts in Modern Languages with First Class Honours. There she met fellow student John G. McArthur whom she married and accompanied throughout his career as one of New Zealand’s Senior Diplomats. He became one of New Zealand’s well known Ambassadors.
Although she insisted on working independently of the Embassy in her own right as a painter she never the less says; ‘quite frankly I owe much of my inspiration to the experiences of life in sophisticated capitals of the world.
I am sometimes accused of being ‘European’. This is hardly astonishing seeing that my life as a good New Zealander has been spent in capitals of the world. It is also a fact that my work deals largely with people, a theme of eternal interest and valid everywhere, in Paris, New York, Auckland, Timbuctoo … Let’s not get parochial and let’s remember that a true painter applies his or her vision to whatever happens to be the surrounding theme’.
Piera lived and worked for many years in Paris. While painting in Moscow later on, she became the first New Zealander to have a solo show at the New Tretiakov Gallery in Russia. Of this experience she wrote, ‘I came of age as a painter, experiencing strong reaction both for and against’.
Since returning to New Zealand, Piera has held numerous successful solo exhibitions and her works are held in many private and public collections throughout New Zealand and internationally.