Norman G Bell (Graeme), now back in New Zealand after living in Canada for most of his life, is currently exhibiting his paintings in the Cromwell Museum.
Graeme was born in Dunedin in 1941. His family moved to Cromwell soon after, as his car-mechanic father was offered a job here. Graeme’s primary school years were spent here, and he went back to Dunedin to Otago Boys High School for secondary education.
In 1959 he attended Dunedin Teachers College and came back to teach at Cromwell District High School under Cuth Rivers.
“Cromwell was a very different town in those days – a little place of dirt roads, and New Zealand then completely shut down over weekends – to be truthful I found it quite dull,” says Graeme.
Adventure called, and Graeme went travelling in the United States, and from there he secured a teaching job in Canada, where he met his wife, Hilda.
While teaching in Cromwell, Graeme had taken up drawing and water colour painting, with other teachers there, and they were tutored by Elizabeth Stephenson.
Graeme is now one of the artist group who meet at Old Cromwell every Monday morning.
He enjoys volunteering at the Cromwell Museum two days a week, and Museum Director Jennifer Hay is excited to host his exhibition there, celebrating local talent.
“Graeme is such an interesting man. He has lots of great stories about life in Cromwell in the 1950’s,” she says.
The exhibition is of 28 oil paintings, varying in shape and size, and focused on the Central Otago landscape, though there is one streetscape of San Gimignano, Italy.