Woollaston 101 is a historically important exhibition curated by staff at Nelson's public art gallery, The Suter. Toss Woollaston (Sir Mountford Tosswill Woollaston, 1910-1998) is regarded both as one of New Zealand's foremost expressionist landscape painters, and a pioneer of the New Zealand modern art movement. His contribution to modern New Zealand art is now considered one of the greatest of the twentieth century. In 1979 he became the first New Zealand artist to be knighted for his services to New Zealand art. In 1979, Toss Woollaston gifted 101 works on paper to The Suter's collection. This generous donation was made as an expression of love for Nelson and to ensure that The Suter held the largest public collection of his work (letter from the artist, 22 June 1980).
Woollaston 101 will present the entire collection of these works on paper. This will be supplemented with the artist's iconic landscapes in oil and will provide an insight into the mind of the artist at work and reflects his belief that: 'drawing is always intended as a thing in itself, it might sometimes later serve as a reference for a painting but only incidentally'. Presentation of these works for exhibition was made possible through the generosity of The Friends of the Suter. The Woollaston oil painting, Blackball No.3, gifted to the Millennium Art Gallery's collection by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade in 2001, will be displayed with the exhibition as will some of Woollaston's ephemera such as his easel. A variety of public programmes will be presented with the exhibition.