Greer Twiss

Greer Twiss’s Biography

Arts Foundation Icon 2011
Greer Twiss, ONZM, is the longest continually producing sculptor in New Zealand, and has become one of the country’s most prominent and respected artists and teachers.

Greer Twiss was born in 1937. From an early age he became interested in making puppets and putting on marionette performances for both live audiences and television. His first public performance was in 1946 at the St John's Ambulance Society.

He was a student at the Elam School of Fine Arts in the 50s where he graduated with honours. He became interested in cast metals and, in 1965, he was awarded a QEII Arts Council Travel Grant that enabled him to travel to Britain and Europe where he studied the lost-wax process. Greer has worked in a number of media including lead and sheet galvanised iron, but he is best known for his tactile bronzes. Bronze casting had seldom been undertaken by artists in New Zealand when Greer began, and that necessitated setting up his own foundry.

Greer has exhibited for over 50 years. His work is included regularly in both group and solo exhibitions throughout New Zealand and overseas. His work has also been included in major exhibitions such as Volume and Form, Singapore, Content/Context at Shed 11 - Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, and Aspects of Recent New Zealand Art, Auckland City Art Gallery. He has been the subject of two retrospective exhibitions; one organised by the Wellington City Art Galleryand the other by the Auckland Art Gallery.

His sculpture is included in all major public and many private collections in New Zealand including Auckland Art Gallery -Toi o Tamaki and Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. He is also represented in numerous international public and private collections. One of the largest and most important early contemporary public sculpture commissions was his large untitled bronze commissioned for Karangahape Road by the Auckland City Council in 1968.

Greer has undertaken a number of other large-scale commissioned works and participated in the Sculpture Park developed for the Seoul Olympics in 1988. Throughout the 1990s he completed a number of installation works which have been exhibited in private sculpture collections and in major public galleries, including in 2004 a large public work for the Auckland City Sculpture Trust, Flight Trainer for Albatross, which stands at the entrance to the Auckland viaduct on Princes Wharf. His work has featured in major publications on New Zealand art and sculpture.

Greer also had a long career teaching at the University of Auckland, where he was an Associate Professor at the Elam School of Fine Arts, becoming Head of Sculpture in 1974. He retired from the school in 1998.

He was made an ONZM for Sculpture in the Queen's Birthday Honours 2002 and received an Arts Foundation Icon Award in 2011.