Painting Poets.co.nz

Leonard Lambert (b.1945)

The twin careers of Leonard Lambert were effectively launched in 1975 when he exhibited at an obscure Christchurch gallery and was noticed by the leading critic of the time, T.L. Rodney Wilson; and when the first poem he could truly call his own, "A Washday Romance", was published in the NZ Listener.

From there, the poetry developed in silence, and very slowly. But the painting took off, leading in 1980 to a finals berth in the biggie of the day, the Benson & Hedges Art Award, and the purchase by the City of Napier of the chosen work, "The Mystery of Bird Unravelled".

Also around that time, poet Brian Turner, then editor at John McIndoe Ltd, Dunedin, decided Leonard was ready for his first collection, and "A Washday Romance" was published in 1980. Less than a year later the family shifted from Greymouth to Napier and Leonard continued to write slowly, paint fast, and exhibit everywhere.

Numerous provincial awards followed, capped in 1985 with a 2nd placing in the prestigious Montana Art Award. In the mid-80s he began to feel he'd done all he wanted to do as a painter. The easel fell idle and he focussed more and more on his poetry. Several years later, in the late 80s, his painting flickered briefly back into life but centre-stage was poetry and the publication in 1990 of his second collection, "Park Island".

The same year, death and upheaval in the wider family forced a move, a return to the Bay of Plenty. This proved artistically and personally barren. No painting for 6 years and a mere dribble of poems. Not until the late 90s did the paintings begin to reappear but then only sporadically, and with little drive or direction.

Similarly with the poems: these were so thin on the ground that it wasn't until 2004 - 14 years after Park Island - that HeadworX published his third collection, "Natural Anthem".

At the Tauranga launch of this volume he met fellow-poet and painter, Jan FitzGerald, fell in love, and, in 2007, moved with Jan back 'home' to Napier. (The couple married in 2013.) The result of this partnership has been many new and lyrical paintings and poems and the launch of Leonard's fourth collection, "Skywire: love poems."

His most recent publication is "A Morning Walk in the Later Days", a chapbook from Cold Hub Press, Christchurch, NZ.