From the first moment I met him in 1980 to the last time I saw him.
He was always a constant yet always so obtuse with his deeply held views and his love of art.
Whenever I went to see him in his gallery we always talked about something I would never have expected.
At his openings I loved the way he invested everyone with the spirit of something outside the norm, the magic of the art on his walls. He wasn’t selling anything – he was showing something he believed in.
He came to all of my own exhibitions – usually the day after the opening and would dissect them at length with me later and he came to a few of my early Wellington gigs with Negative Theatre or the Spines and took me seriously as an artist in whatever field I was working in.
When we published the Brain he told me exactly how it would wind up and he had a ball at the launch party.
I went to see him after Michelle left me and he asked how long we had been together. I told him eighteen years and he told me it would take me seven years to get over it – he was spot on.
At that point I had been carving my Strange Angels and he was intrigued and came to my studio in Wigan Street to check them out a couple of times. That was the closest I came to having a show with him – he had a vision of them as one work.
I got offered instead a show by Darcy Nicolas at Pataka and Peter urged me to take it. He took the train to Porirua (the day after the opening as usual) and said to come and see him with any new work of any kind.
The last time I spoke to him at length he looked me square in the eye and asked me what went wrong. I knew exactly what he meant but had no real answer.
He was so unlike anyone I’ve ever met – this towering figure in New Zealand art that was so generous, so quietly powerful and honest.
Like my dad and like James Ritchie, Peter was one of those rare father-figures that totally formed the way I’ve looked at things and I miss him and his enormous mana and grace.
I still don’t know what went wrong but I know he was right.