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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Skippers Canyon: History, Art and Adventure by John Gillies



Skippers Canyon is undeniably one of Aotearoa’s most spectacular locations. Even as a born and bred Kiwi, anytime I visit this iconic location, my mouth drops open in awe at the landscape. Skippers Canyon: History, Art and Adventure by John Gillies is the next best thing to visiting the actual location. This handsome art hardback is stunning, and it brings to life this beautiful location with its beautiful art and complementary text, providing a welcome background and history.


Queenstown’s backcountry, carved out by the Shotover River, has been an inspiration for artist John Gillies for around 40 years. It is wonderful to have a detailed topical map included, although I feel great sympathy for John’s wife, who, on their honeymoon and fearful of heights, finds herself climbing toward Pinchers Bluff. Thankfully, John realised his wife’s terror and turned around. But ever since then, John has been drawn to Skippers Canyon.


The book combines stunning palette-knife art by John Gillies, a little about the local history, and also sketches and information about how he created his artworks.

At the end of the book is a master class on palette-knife painting, a speciality John has spent decades pursuing and something that he now teaches. It’s a very different style from painting with brushes, creating the distinctive look that features in Skippers Canyon: History, Art and Adventure.


This book is a must-have for art lovers, or anyone interested in this beautiful region of Aotearoa. A treat for yourself, or it would make a thoughtful gift for another person. Show it off on your coffee table or include it in your library. It will be well appreciated!


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Quentin Wilson Publishing

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