Peter Jean Caley
Feature Artist in
Soura art magazine
Issue two
May-June 2005
Peter Jean Caley
By Mariam W. Al Dabbagh

How hard is it to define Art? A question we tried to answer in our first issue,helplessly aiming
at a satisfying answer. However,when I met Peter Jean Caley,I suddenly found myself with all
the answers.

“Art is your gateway to the world.” With these words I found myself fascinated with the amount
of passion and dedication Caley has for his work. His sense of belonging and true attachment
to the subjects of his work make him one of the most exceptional people I have ever met.

His will to send the message across to people is restless. He spent hours trying to explain to
me the significance behind every painting ,the spirit that guides him through and the stories
behind every brush stroke.

I was sad though, because we often fail to understand art the way he sees it, and that failure
is very disappointing. I wished for a moment that the passion he had would spread all around,
and as optimistic as this might sound, the world would have certainly become a better place!

On a personal note, I am fascinated by the culture of New Zealand, and I believe that if we
study it well, most of lifes complicated questions will be answered. It is simply remarkable!

Who is Peter Jean Caley?

Born in Aotearoa, New Zealand, from the Ngai Tahu, Kati Hui Rapa tribe, Caley has grown to
be an inspirational realist, with beautiful representations of the Marae culture, along with many
other stirring topics. Caley interest in painting started from a very early age, as he used to
keep a book of Salvidor Dali tucked under his pillow.

Inspired by both his father and grandfather who both painted. Caley was encouraged to
pursue painting and art as a full time job to this very day.

Caley has evolved a very unique technique and his work is entirely freehand, developing a
delicate use of colour and brush technique. He enjoys the challenge of large-scale works and
has a style that could only be described within the category of inspirational realism.
On returning to New Zealand in 1997 from many years spent in Australia, he was sponsored
to paint for New Zealand native and cultural exhibition.

Tui on Taurapa

The Tui is a native honeyeater found throughout New Zealand.
These birds were kept by Maori in the past as pets.
It is part of legend “ Never tell a Tui your secrets,
as they will tell everyone”.

The Taurapa is the stern post of a Waka Taua (war canoe).
These were elaborately carved, all told a story, and each tribe
had their own design.

Wakahuia black (treasure box)

This magnificently carved Wakahuia was from the original, which is several hundred years old
and still kept at home with the Maori descendants.

It represents the loved ones that have departed. It has a shadow of a spirit beneath and the
flax bushes dances with the arrival of the ancestors.


A young girl going through that curious stage in life,
seeking direction and confused between traditions
and what life has to offer.

An amazing thing happened during the painting of
this portrait. In the background the artist could faintly
make out a Face in the scrumbling of Oil. He went
about with the brush bringing it into being with the
intention of removing it. Whilst away Lisa s Mother
visited the studio and immediately asked where he
got the picture of the grandmother. This was later confirmed with a series of photographs
which absolutely confirmed her likeness. It was there to stay.

Wakahuia (brown treasure box)

This finely carved Wakahuia was painted from an original piece carved in the Rotorua district.
The family still uses the original to celebrate weddings and births.
Mariam W.Al dabbagh
Group Editor Soura
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Community High Country Herald- June 1,2005

Geraldine artist Peter Jean Caley was encouraged by the interest in his work during a recent exhibition in

Caley’s paintings were at the center of a New Zealand Exhibit at the first International Art and Craft expo
held in the Hotel Grand Hyatt in Dubai in April.

The expo included the works of 350 artists and artisans from around the world.

Maori carvings, weapons, clothing and weaving supported Caley’s personal collection of Maori portraits
and cultural paintings.

Awatea Edwin, of Temuka, travelled with the art works and performed the cultural protocols associated
with opening the exhibition.

Caley says he used the occasion to promote South Canterbury and handed out brochures and
information about the region during his travels.

Caley’s works are in oil on canvas and are described as inspirational realism. He says there is a world
wide trend towards realistic art and international markets are opening up to him.

The exhibit attracted huge interest, sometimes from unexpected quarters. Along with Sheiks, Princesses
and Dignitaries, a group of school children arrived on a field trip as part of their study of Maori culture and
a Dubai newspaper ran a kiwi colouring competition.

While in Dubai Caley accepted an invitation to show his work in the Ambiente Arabia Exhibition, held in the
World Trade Centre, in Dubai the following week.

This exhibition was a bonus and provided further opportunity to meet with marketers and other big players
on the international art scene.

Recently a copy of Caley’s painting The Flutes was presented to Prince Charles during his visit to New

Caley is now well established internationally and is planning exhibitions in Delhi and New York later this