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About Barbara Strathdee

Barbara Strathdee was born in Wellington, New Zealand.

After working for a number of years as a graphic artist at advertising agencies in her home town of Wellington, and for Smith & Caughey and the Auckland Star newspaper in Auckland, Barbara attended art school in London. A brief period at the Byam Shaw Art School introduced her to modernism, and a subsequent move to Trieste, Italy, gave her the opportunity to continue these studies with the Slovene constructivist artist August Cernigoj.

This marked the beginning of work which developed into the series - The Conventional Canvas - from which a group of 12 canvases was selected for exhibition at the Quadriennale di Roma in 1977. Strathdee later returned to live for approximately six months of each year in New Zealand and began an exploration in painting of her own family history. This eventually led to a cycle of works known as Somewhere in Our Historical Memory created over fifteen years, which have been seen in many exhibitions in New Zealand and Italy, as well as large exhibitions at the Mestna galerija Ljubljana, Slovenia 1992 and at the Warwick Brown Gallery in Auckland 1998.

A painting / photographic piece from this series, Staking a Claim 1987, is held in the collection of Te Papa Tongawera Museum of New Zealand, Wellington.

Barbara Strathdee graduated BA in English Literature and Italian from Victoria University of Wellington in 1982.  When she returned to New Zealand to live permanently she began writing a book about artists in Trieste.  Her novel Café Wars was published in 2005 and won the 
First prize for fiction: the IX International Literary Award Trieste Scritture di Frontiera 2006.

The Artist

Barbara Strathdee has a long association with gallery dealer and publisher Nadia Bassanese in Trieste, Italy. The artist has exhibited also in non-gallery sites in the villages of Sitran d'Alpago and Topolò in Italy, and the fortress of Kluze in Slovenia. She has over the years recommended NZ artist colleagues for these venues, and for exhibitions at the Nadia Bassanese Studio d'Arte in Trieste. Strathdee has co-curated large exhibitions and events including the international exhibition Femministe at La Cappella Underground, Trieste, Italy 1975, F1 New Zealand Sculpture event in Wellington 1982,  and Anzart-in-Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 1983. 

For further information and for acquisitions contact Barbara Strathdee directly by post (see Contact page) or email  

Artist photo: Alan Knowles
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