An Artist's Journeys in Nature


Aotearoa - Patricia Howitt

“Prepare to Journey”

I was a city girl, born into a Brigade of Guards family, used to living in barracks around London and Windsor and used to hearing my father drilling troops on the square daily. 

When I was 8, we moved up to Scotland, where my dad took charge of the University of Aberdeen Officer Training Corps – training potential army officers from the ranks of the students at Aberdeen University.  He was later commissioned as a Captain in the Gordon Highlanders and continued that work.

At first we lived in suburban semi detached villa, but after a couple of years the army moved us out to a small bungalow at Peterculter on Deeside, where I had my first taste of rolling hills, steep burns, and cattle in the neighboring field.  At that time though, my interests lay in sculpture and model aircraft (real ones, made out of balsa wood – not plastic, Ha!).

I was forbidden to even think of earning an income from art – my first love.  So I had to settle for languages and prepare for a University education.

After nearly 8 years in Scotland, we were beginning to feel at home. My folks were even looking to build or buy a house. Then life was turned upside-down by winds of change blowing in the British Army.   After 24 years of service, it became clear my dad could find himself without a job.

The opportunity to emigrate to Central Africa came up, and he took it.  

Salisbury Harare at Night

A bigger change is hard to imagine –  the beautiful modern city of Salisbury, rising like a mirage out of vast dusty plains, hot temperatures and a monsoon season were to replace the chilly Scottish airs of the Granite City of Aberdeen.  Native drums and ‘kwela’ (or penny whistle jive) superseded the skirl of the pipes and the flash of tartan.  I loved it there.

“This too shall pass.”

Soldier as he was, my dad soon saw the underlying tensions in the region.  In just over 3 years, he and my mother had decided to move to New Zealand.  I was shattered – not for the first time.  But looking back, I have to say they made the right move.  Zimbabwe was to shape up far worse than even he could have anticipated.

I love the New Zealand landscape dearly now, having spent much time on foot in the high country around our capital city Wellington, from the Central North Island Plateau with its great volcanoes, through the “Lord of The Rings” forests in the Tararua Ranges, to the mountainous country of the South Island West Coast (see below). One day I’ll return to these places, but meantime they form the subject of many of my paintings.

And Africa still holds a special place of fascination in my heart.

This is essentially a personal story.  I hope, though, that I can draw out of it some thoughts and happenings to delight and amuse you – and maybe offer something worthwhile to ponder on.


Butler Lake, Whataroa, New Zealand

2 responses

  1. Eddie Groody

    Dear Patricia Howitt, Can you please contact me re the late artist Rona Swallow. I have come across one of her Etchings and would like to know more about her work. I see that she was your mentor ; if you could point me in the right direction I would appreciate that very much…thanks Eddie Groody

    November 2, 2012 at 3:12 am

    • Eddie, I’ve just sent you a reply to this by email – hope it will be of some help to you. Patricia

      June 9, 2013 at 10:10 pm

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