Greathead an artist even as a schoolboy

19:50, Aug 03 2012

Successful Timaru-born artist Aston Greathead, described as a generous man who was always keen to help, died recently at his Blenheim home. He was 91.

Mr Greathead went to Waimataitai Primary School, in Timaru and from that early age seemed only interested in art. He drew over the covers of all his textbooks and down the margins of the pages, which made these sought after by all other children at the annual book sales. Rather than going to secondary school he worked at Timaru's S. W Lewis and Sons and learnt signwriting.

Mr Greathead joined the army in World War II and served in North Africa and Italy.

Sometimes on leave he had the opportunity to sketch and paint, which he frequently did for fellow soldiers wishing to send home pictures. When the war ended he returned to New Zealand and set up a signwriting business in Christchurch, but in 1957 he moved to Kaikoura with his wife Ett and three daughters Suzanne, Wendy and Dennise.

In 1966 he won the prestigious Dawson Hallmark watercolour award, sponsored by Sir Henry Kelliher - the art equivalent to sportsman of the year. That placed him in the top 10 of the country's painters, and propelled him into commission work.

Mr Greathead was happiest when he was painting on location and a lot of his early commissions came from back country farms, but much of his work has gone overseas.


For a long time The Hermitage at Mt Cook has given pride of place on its walls to his paintings. They still hang today in the dining room and lounge bar.

In the 1980s Mr Greathead donated 1000 limited edition prints of the original Keas At Dusk to the Cancer Society, which helped raise $200,000 towards the cause. In September 2008 an auction was held to raise money to upgrade in the children's section at the Temuka Cemetery and Mr Greathead donated two original paintings.

He was very fond of birds and kept bantams and finches which he would draw and paint.

Mr Greathead retired to Blenheim where he died on July 18.

He is survived by three daughters - Suzanne, Wendy, Dennise - 10 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.

The Timaru Herald