Anita DeSoto

Introducing Anita DeSoto

My profound passion for painting takes on a vivid voice as it intertwines with my deep fascination for History. It’s a captivating dance where the forgotten stories of women, often hidden, find their expression in my art. A constant thread in my work.

I was born in Waimate, near where generations of my paternal ancestors lived in the enchanting Totara Valley in Waitaha/Canterbury. Amongst the limestone caves that hold ancient whispers and Maori art. And the echo of long-forgotten horseback
journeys through this valley, as children rode huge distances to school.

In the journey of my life, Koputai/Port Chalmers is a place of profound significance. It was here, from the age of 3, that I grew up around my maternal lineage. The salty breeze of Koputai carries within it the echoes of generations past, and my family’s tales.

Imagine the scene in the 1840s, my great-great-great grandmother was eyewitness to hundreds of vessels navigating Otago Harbour, carrying with them a tide of settlers. Her survival story of womanhood in that era remains etched in my consciousness – an awe-inspiring testament to her endurance and resilience.

Now, standing as a matriarch within my own family, I find profound joy in the act of sharing life’s journey with my loved ones. In a cottage by the ever-changing sea in Blueskin Bay, my partner and I have cultivated a garden vast in size, colours, and produce. Another kind of canvas imbued with a vibrant spectrum.

Curriculum Vitae


  • MASTER of FINE ARTS, Otago Polytechnic School of Art, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • BACHELOR of FINE ARTS, Otago Polytechnic School of Art, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • Graduate Diploma in Teaching, Dunedin

Professional Experience

  • 2004 – 2024
    Drawing and Painting Lecturer at the Dunedin School of Art at the Otago Polytechnic


  • William Hodges Fellowship, Southland 2018
  • New Pacific Studio, Vallejo, San Francisco, California, USA 2014
  • Arotoi Residency Award at New Pacific Studios, New Zealand, 2013
  • Leipzig International Art Residency ProgrammeLeipzig, Germany, 2010


  • Self Portrait, 2005 Eastern Southland Gallery 
  • Gala Day and Time is Not Linear, 2018. Southland Art Foundation
  • Not of This World, 2013,  Pah House, Auckland
  • Signpost from God,  James Wallace Collection, Pah Homestead, Auckland
  • Further than Far Away, Anderson Park Public Gallery Collection, Invercargill

Judging of Art Awards

  • University of Otago, Intercollege Student Visual Art Competition 2022
  • Edinburgh Art Awards, Dunedin 2022
  • Preston Russel Art Awards, Riverton 2019
  • Almost an Island, Otago peninsula 2019
  • Edinburgh Realty Art Awards Dunedin 2018
  • Otago University Students Association Art Awards 2015
  • Aspiring Art Awards, Central Otago 2014

Prizes & Awards

2019 Merit award, Cleveland Art Awards, Dunedin
2018 William Hodges Fellowship and Residency, Southland|
2017 Peoples choice award, New Edinburgh Art Awards, Dunedin
2014  Artist in residence, New Pacific Studios in Vallejo, San Francisco, USA
2013  Aratoi Fellowship, New Pacific Studio, New Zealand
2012  Molly Morpeth Canady Art Award, merit prize for Abor Spiritus
2010  Awarded a 3 month Leipzig International Art Residency in Germany
2006  Park Lane Art Awards, First Prize, Portrait CategoryAuckland Museum
2004  The McAlister Award, Anderson Park Gallery, Invercargill
2004  Highly Commended, Cleveland Award, Cleveland Living Arts Centre, Dunedin
2003  Cleveland Premier Award, Cleveland Living Arts Centre, Dunedin
2003  Derivan Art Award, Dunedin
2000  Recognition of Achievement in Painting, Otago Polytechnic School of Art 

Reviews & Publications

  • Toi Moroki CoCA, Ways of Knowing Group Show 2024
  • Otago Daily Times Shedding light on the past 2024
  • Art Beat: Stoddart Cottage Gallery Group Show 2024
  • Essay for Potion Potion 2024
  • I Don’t Want Your Golden Apple Exhibition Catalogue 2022
  • Rebecca Fox Putting a new spin on the past 2022
  • Darren Ludlow, Art is Perception, Radio Southland NZ on Air 2018
  • Amy Johnstone, Southland Express  7/8/2018
  • Amy Johnstone, Southland Express 3/9/ 2018
  • Westernstar  July 2018
  • T J McNamara, review, Vintage. New Zealand Herald Aug 2016
  • Sian Hannagan, Home Birth Aotearoa, artists page 3.2 Winter 2016
  • James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, Coming Back, p 26, 31 May 2012
  • David Eggleton (ed), Landfall, Home + Building, 2012
  • Scope, Contemporary Research Topics Art and Design, Otago Polytechnic, p. 5-6, 2011
  • Nigel Benson, Otago Daily Times, True to Form, 16 Sept 2009
  • Leoni Shmidt, Scope, Contemporary Research Topics: Art 3, Pie in the sky, 2009
  • Otago Polytechnic Research Annual Report, Otago Polytechnic, 2009
  • James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, Cross My Heart, 23 April 2009
  • Gavin Bartram, D-Scene, Cross My Heart , Dunedin, 15 April 2009
  • T.J. McNamara, The New Zealand Herald, Pie in the Sky, April 9 2008
  • David Eggleton, The Listener, 25 Aug 2007
  • Channel 9 Documentary, 7 July 2007
  • Margi Macmurdo, Critic, OUSA, Issue 15, 2007
  • Nigel Benson, Otago Daily Times, 12 July 2007
  • Stephen Higginson, a review for the exhibition “Cross My Heart”, 2009
  • Bridie Leonie, Ordinary Ecstacies catalogue for exhibition, Away, away, July 2007
  • Maari McClusky, Drawn from Life: The Art of Anita DeSotoArt New Zealand, Winter, 2007
  • T.J. McNamara, The New Zealand Herald, Votive & Lies, July 5, 2006
  • Ralph Body, Critic, Discomposures, OUSA, 2006
  • James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, Discomposures, May 18, 2006
  • Katrina Megget, Otago Daily Times, report on Park Lane Award, April 22, 2006
  • Capital Times, Adam Portraiture Award, 2-28 March, 2006
  • Diana Dekker, Dominion Post, Adam Portraiture Award, March 18, 2006
  • Ben Vidgen, Deadline, 18 August, 2005
  • Frith, Review of Limbus, p.23 – 24
  • Joanne Campbell, Otago Daily Times, review of Limbus, (page 25), 12 August 2005
  • Katrina Megget, Otago Daily Times, Cleveland Past Winners Show, p.26, 2 July 2005
  • James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, Southern Light  review, 16 Dec 2004
  • McAlister Award, Southland Times, Amy Glass, P.27, 3 Oct 2004
  • James Dignan, Otago Daily Times, Cleveland Award, 1 Oct 2004
  • Richard Dingwall, Otago Daily Times, Post Raphaelites review, 15 Nov 2004
  • David Eggleton, The Listener, Cleveland Award, 25 Oct 2004
  • Richard Dingwall, Otago Daily Times, Cleveland Award, 3 Oct 2004
  • Catherine Patterson, Otago Daily Times, Cleveland Award, p.28, 3 Oct 2004
  • Brenda Harwood, Otago Daily Times, Desire Drapes Everything, 20 July 2004
  • Richard Dingwall, Otago Daily Times, Desire Drapes Everything Review, 18 July 2004
  • Peter Entwistle, Otago Daily Times, Site review, Dec 2000