We are sorry to hear of the passing of artist Maurice Bennett. Known as 'The Toastman' Bennett has been a popular artist and character for young and old over the years and will be well missed in Wellington and Beyond. Bennett's Self-Portrait is currently on show in Me, Myself and I: Self Portraits from the New Zealand Portrait Gallery Collection until July 31.
Maurice Bennett was born in Paeroa and moved to Auckland to train in civil engineering and then architecture. He travelled overseas and found his passion for art while visiting museums and galleries. On his return to New Zealand he worked in retail and later purchased the Island Bay supermarket. It was at the supermarket that he became known for his art, and his use of toast as a medium.
Bennett has completed portraits of famous New Zealander’s including Richie McCaw, Prime Minister, John Key and film director, Sir Peter Jackson and has been working full time as “The Toastman” since 2009.
Bennett creates the tonal effect on the faces by painstakingly toasting or burning each individual slice. Bennett chose the medium of toast because as an everyday item it is not usually associated with art. It gives texture and depth to each artwork. From a distance the artwork appears as a single image but as the viewer approaches the two thousand individual toast slices become evident.
© 2016 The New Zealand Portrait Gallery Trust