McCahon was born in Timaru in 1919 and grew up mainly in Dunedin, attending the Dunedin School of Art. McCahon worked as a custodian and subsequently as Deputy Director of Auckland City Art Gallery, before leaving to take up a lecturing position at Elam School of Fine Art. He is considered one of New Zealand’s most prominent painters due to being one of the first adopters of Modernist principles: key qualities of his work include its large scale, the overlaying of text in white, and its depiction of the New Zealand landscape. McCahon was deeply Christian and channelled his religion into his work as a way of siting it within his own landscape, and in order to develop a form of painterly nationalism. He died in 1987, and his Titirangi house was transformed into a small museum to house his legacy, as well as a residency programme for emerging and mid-career artists.