Chrystabel Aitken (1904-2004) New Zealand

Biographical Information

Chrystabel Aitken was born in Gore, New Zealand in 1905, Aitken was an astonishingly versatile artist. When she was just seventeen, Chrystabel Aitken’s family relocated from Southland to Christchurch so that she could pursue her passion at Canterbury College School of Art. At the time, the depression had affected female employment prospects, and women were being urged to return to domestic pursuits. Aitken, like many other women at the time, had ambitions of being a career artist but also needed to earn an income to support her family. At Canterbury College she experimented with a diverse range of media including portraiture, still lives, landscapes, prints, metal work, jewellery and leatherwork. She excelled in all these areas, receiving numerous scholarships but her personal passion was sculpture and modeling. Her modeling mentor Francis Shurrock became something of a mentor to her and in 1926, Aitken took a part-time job as an assistant with his junior modeling classes. In the late 1930s she joined a team of sculptors commissioned to design and carve individual panels for the Centennial Exhibition Buildings at Rongotai, Wellington, carving a plaster frieze 30m long above the entrance to the main buildings celebrating New Zealand’s pioneer settlers. One of the few examples of Aitken’s work in the public domain is a jewel casket c1930 of silverplated repoussé copper with cloisonné enamel inset in the collection of Te Papa Tongarewa. Notably a display of repoussé and enameled jewellery from Britain was exhibited at the 1906 Christchurch Exhibition, which was a formative influence of Aitken. These two rare examples were gifted to Don & Marjorie Spiller, who were personal friends of Chrystabel & her husband Gordon McArthur.

[Dunbar Sloane, Wellington] Edit or add to this biography

Market Information

No Image Available
Highest Price:
Over the Rocks
Woodblock, 13.5 x 19 cm
New Zealand & International Fine Art, Day 2, Dunbar Sloane, Wellington.
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 Total number soldNumber with imagesHighest priceRecent average price*
Paintings66A$248 N/A
Works on Paper1212A$298 N/A
Prints & Graphics21A$662 N/A
Objects109A$263 N/A

* Calculated on sales over the last three years, where there are a sufficient number of sales over that period.

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