Kathleen (Kitty) Airini Vane is best known for her watercolour and tempera landscape paintings of New Zealand, the Pacific and Europe.
Born in Wainuiomata (greater Wellington), Vane was the daughter of Captain Gilbert Mair, a hero of the Maori wars, and Kate Sperry. Educated in Auckland, Kitty studied art under Kenneth Watkins (1847 – 1933), and later at the Royal College of Art in London (1912).
With the outbreak of the Great War, she travelled to Malta as a nurse. There she met her husband Captain the Hon. Ralph Vane, the 3rd son of Lord & Lady Barnard of Raby Castle. The couple married in London in 1917 and then travelled extensively, seeking out new locations for the young Kitty to paint. Her work was exhibited at the Academy in Paris in 1924.
After the death of her husband in 1928, Vane travelled to Canada, Africa and America, returning to New Zealand with the outbreak of the Second World War. During the war years she exhibited in New Zealand and Fiji, donating the proceeds from the sale of her works to the Red Cross and Navy League.
In October 1936, the artist persuaded Samuel Lamorna Birch and his wife Houghton to come to New Zealand to paint and give a lecture tour sponsored by the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts. Kitty was to be their driver, painting companion and guide. In December 1936, Birch and Vane painted in the Bay of Islands and Whangarei Harbour and it was on this Christmas trip to New Zealand’s most spectacular coastline that they both painted in the Mahurangi Heads.
Vane returned to Europe and North Africa in 1949, where she worked for a further three years. On her return to New Zealand in 1952 she settled at Langs Beach, Northland. She was a regular exhibitor at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts and the Auckland Society of Art until the mid 1950s.
Vane died on the 7th of February 1965 at Langs Beach. Her works are held in numerous private and public collections, including the Tauranga Art Gallery.
‘Edinburgh from The Meadows’ by Kitty Airini Vane on display at Jonathan Grant Gallery. For more information on Vane’s paintings contact the Gallery.