Peter Miller



Peter Miller was born in the Waikato, 1955. After moving to Auckland, studied life drawing with Peter Waddell and Matthew Browne at Outreach (Artstation) 1993-95. 1996, collaboration with painting groups 1997 - 98, Studying towards Batchelor of Visual Arts at Manukau Institute of Art and Design School, graduating with a diploma of Visual Arts.

The origin of Millers work lies in the Dutch Vanitas paintings of the 16th and 17th century, but lies open to interpretation through the eyes of the individual viewer. The painters of the Vanitas genre used strong iconic symbolism within their paintings to refer to the transient nature of life, mankinds mortality and the futility and insignificance of mankind's pursuits in the face of the endless passing of time.

Miller can best be classified as a contemporary still life painter. He has chosen to play with that same theme but to reinvent it in a more subtle personal manner, using simple common objects of a personal significance and beauty. The damaged, worn and broken objects within these paintings are used to indicate the fragility and impermanence of material possessions and through this the fragile nature of life itself. The toys show signs of wear and tear and referrence the passing of childhood and through this the passing of time also. They may also provoke a sense of nostalgia within the viewer, signifiers of a childhood passed and no longer attainable. The use of the skull is perhaps the most obvious reference to the vanitas style, the skull being perhaps the most commonly used symbol within that genre.


Miller has tended to avoid the strong symbolism of the Vanitas painters, choosing instead to work predominantly with subtlety and ambiguity. He uses the objects contained within the paintings to create an illusion of a story or an allusion to a story, without giving a defined narrative. The spatial element within the painting is used to create a sense of disquiet, of an altered reality. Here too, the shadows play an important part, giving a sense of time passing, of the days end, and the disquiet that can be evoked with the image of twilight.

Peter Miller has exhibited frequently throughout New Zealand since 1996 and has been a regular finalist in some of New Zealand’s most prestigious art awards - most recently winning the Molly Morpeth Canady Art Award in 2014 and a finalist in the 2013 Wallace Art Awards. His work features in public and private collections across Europe, USA and Australasia, including a number of works in the James Wallace Arts Trust in Auckland.

Boadicea the Victorious. Genevieve Vantage Point Spilt Milk No Tears Green With Envy
In Pursuit of Meaning (a holiday in Cambodia) Well Travelled Last Lap – Fun Ho! Endangered Species
When I Grow Up An Artists Dream (A Truckload of Money) Made in NZ Midget Racer
Front End Loader Tip Truck - Fun Ho! Doll Day Chasing Victory - Fun Ho! Tip Truck – Fun Ho! (small)
Waiting To Deliver My Jag One of a Kind One of a Kind ii
Morgan Laura and The Kingfisher Jeanne d'Arc. Sabine Laura de Argentina
Crown Lynn - Made in NZ Blue Sports Car Cracked Jug At a Tangent
The Breakfast Set All that Exists The Pool of Dreams Hiding from the Evildoers
Fun Ho! Jaguar Coupe no.329 Family One of a Kind - Crown Lynn
Fun – Ho: Midget Racer Crown Lyn Milk Jug The Rice Bowl dilemma A Teacup in a Storm
The Workhorse Michael's Plane Big Jug, Little Jug Viewpoint
Waiting For Work The Pick Up Broken but Still Working Before The Dance