A New Zealand fantasy world created by Josephine Davis

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Josephine Davis

Born in 1959 into a family with a truly rich artistic history. A descendant of one of our foremost 19th century artists; Kennett Watkins, Josephine’s mother, Lois Davis (nee Watkins) studied at the Christchurch School of Art, graduating in1947.

Josephine’s interest in art was fostered by her mother from an early age. In 1977 she opted to not continue formal art studies, instead to accept an opening with a Hamilton dealer gallery.  She pursued a full-time career in the fine art business until 1988.

During this time she kept up painting in her spare time and exhibited regularly with local societies and dealer galleries. In 1983 Josephine was awarded the Montana Art Award for watercolour.

Early in 1989 Josephine travelled to Europe. Initially settling in London, where she undertook studies at Blake College, before moving to Paris for several months. In September of 1989 she returned to England to attend the Royal Watercolour Society’s Summer School in Kent, where her tutors included the President and Vice President of the Society.

Returning to New Zealand Josephine won the prestigious Tauranga National Art Award in 1990. In 1991 the Gisborne Art Museum purchased a watercolour by Josephine for their permanent collection. Josephine has always painted under her maiden name of Davis, although married for 25 years to art dealer Grant Bezett. A successful solo exhibition was held in Auckland in 1994, just four months before the birth of their first child. Family commitments then reduced her artistic output considerably for several years. However, she did manage to keep exhibiting both watercolours and oils in dealer galleries both in New Zealand, as well as in London and Paris.

Josephine’s mother Lois painted a fairy picture for each of her four children, featuring that child and their favourite characters and animals. Being the youngest of the siblings, Josephine’s fairy picture was unfortunately never totally completed by Lois.

So, while nursing Lois in her last years, Josephine finished Lois’s painting. This proved to be both a therapeutic and inspirational undertaking. After Lois passed away Josephine decided to create her own fairy painting, incorporating elements, both real and imaginary from her own children’s world. It was set in a New Zealand landscape and featured native flora and fauna. This large watercolour was titled; ‘Fantasmagorie’ and a second painting soon followed. The same size and also in watercolour it was titled; ‘Fantastical’.

These new fantasy works proved very popular and both sold at Aesthete Gallery, Hamilton. Limited edition prints were taken from them these, which have been sold worldwide. Encouraged by the success of her first fantasy paintings, Josephine decided on producing a new body of works based on the ‘New Zealand Fantasy’ theme.

The result of two years of work is included in this book illustrating her exhibition works titled ‘The Twilight Hours’. This body of work clearly demonstrates Josephine’s ability to both imagine and render these amazing images with the consummate skill of an internationally accomplished artist.


That space in time between Day and Night; Light and Dark; Real and Surreal

The Twilight Hours