Michael Shepherd was born in Hamilton in 1950 and graduated with a Diploma of Fine Arts (Honours) from Elam, the School of Fine Arts, University of Auckland in 1979.
In 1982 he was awarded a Queen Elizabeth Arts Council travel grant, which he used to study 17th century Dutch painting materials and techniques in Amsterdam.
In 2003 Felicity Millburn, curator wrote, "Using techniques mastered by artists in the 17th century, and often working from photographs and historical documents, Shepherd's work is an oblique kind of history painting, which acknowledges the inevitable failure of any attempt to definitively record the past. Many of his paintings deliberately emphasise the absence of what they purport to recall, with subtle details alluding to the gradual translation of historical 'truth' over time."
Shepherd has exhibited throughout New Zealand since his first solo show at the Denis Cohn Gallery, Auckland, in 1980. Including: in 2010 Te Ahi Ka Roa, Te Ahi Katoro, Taranaki War 1860–2010: our legacy — our challenge, group exhibition. Puke Ariki, New Plymouth.2009 SCORE (Upon the electronic works of Douglas Lilburn), Auckland 2008 Land Wars part 2: build, group show, Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts, Manukau City. 2007/2008 Traveller to an Antique Land - an aspect of war in North Africa, Army Museum, Waiouru. 2005/2006 "Michael Shepherd The Early Years 1975-1931" which was shown at the Sarjeant Gallery, Wanganui, Whangarei Art Museum and the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. 2005 – “Main Trunk Lines” at the National Library, Wellington. “Small World Big Town – Contemporary Art from Te Papa” at the City Gallery, Wellington. 2004 - “New Paintings” at 40 George Street, Auckland, 2001 “Bright Paradise - exotic history and sublime artifice.” 1st Auckland Triennial, Auckland City Art Gallery.2000 - "Still Lies - paintings by Michael Shepherd" at the Robert McDougall, Christchurch, "Parihaka" - a group exhibition at the City Gallery, Wellington. 1998 - "Dream Collectors - 100 years of New Zealand Art", the opening exhibition at Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington. 1995 - "The Nervous System" a group exhibition at the Govett-Brewster, New Plymouth and the City Gallery, Wellington, and "A Very Peculiar Practice" at the City Gallery, Wellington. 1991 - "Souvenirs of Time" a touring exhibition.
In 2005 Giltedge published Excavating the Past - Michael Shepherd artist written by Claudia Bell.
In 2006 having planted a native garden, to accompany his award winning home and studio designed by Nicholas Stevens, Michael Shepherd is now collaborating with o2landscapes, an Auckland-based landscape design and installation company, bringing his native plant knowledge to theirs. (refer www.o2landscapes.com).
Awarded a M.N.Z.M (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for services to the Arts in 2008.
Michael Shepherd has been collected by private collections both within New Zealand and internationally and by the major national public collections; including Te Papa Tongarewa, Auckland Art Gallery and the Christchurch Art Gallery.