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Christine Clark

(b Offenbach am Main, Hesse, Sept 5, 1808; d Bulloo, NSW, April 29, 1861).

Australian painter, Naturalist, meteorologist, ethnographer and explorer of German birth. He studied classics and natural science at the Ludwig Georg Gymnasium, Darmstadt, continuing his studies at Frankfurt am Main in lithography, geology, botany, meteorology and music. Aged 16 he illustrated Jakob Kaup’s Gallerie der Amphibien and in the following years produced further scientific illustrations. In 1840 he was appointed painter and portrait painter to the court of Ludwig III, Grand Duke of Hesse. Becker’s name was linked with Karl Marx and to the revolution of 1848, and he escaped in 1850 to England. He lectured and travelled in England and Scotland for several months before moving to Tasmania in 1851. In Australia he made botanical and meteorological studies, miniatures and a great many illustrations of Australian wildlife, land formations and Aborigines. In 1854 he designed the memorial medal for the Victorian Exhibition, Melbourne, the obverse showing the exhibition building. The medal was selected for display at the Exposition Universelle, Paris, in ...


Jan Minchin

(b Casterton, Victoria, March 21, 1887; d Melbourne, July 6, 1935).

Australian painter. She studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1914–16), and with Max Meldrum became involved (c. 1917) with the Meldrum circle of artists, which included Colin Colahan (1897–1987), Justus Jorgensen (1893–1975), John Farmer (b 1897) and Percy Leason (1889–1959). In 1919 she moved to the seaside suburb of Beaumaris, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life.

Beckett’s soft-edged realist style was strongly influenced by Meldrum’s theory of ‘tonal realism’, and for years she was dismissed as a ‘Meldrumite’, her work being criticized as dull and sketchy. Despite wholesale rejection by the art establishment during her lifetime, she resolutely pursued her painting. The landscapes of the 1920s, for example Street Scene (c. 1925; Melbourne, N.G. Victoria), show a sure and sensitive handling of paint. She was particularly adept at capturing delicate atmospheric effects through subtle relationships of tone. Dawn and dusk were favoured painting times. She worked ...


Ian McLean

(b Bedford Downs cattle station, Western Australia, c.1922; d Kununurra, Western Australia, July 14, 2007).

Australian Aboriginal painter (see fig.). A member of the Gija people from the East Kimberley region in north-western Australia. The transforming moment for Gija-speakers of his generation was the 1969 government legislation for equal pay on cattle stations. Bedford’s life as a stockman was suddenly terminated since stations would not pay their Aboriginal staff. Like many Gija at the time, he eventually settled at the former ration station of Turkey Creek (now Warmun). In the 1970s it became the hub for ceremonial revival and, by the end of the decade, the nascent Gija painting movement. Bedford, however, settled into the role of important ceremonial elder. While this included painting for pedagogical and ceremonial purposes, he only took up painting for exhibition in 1997 at the encouragement of Tony Oliver, the Artistic Director of the newly formed Jirrawun Arts. Soon Bedford became their most celebrated painter. By the time of his death he was being championed as the most acclaimed Aboriginal artist since ...


(Henry Frederick)

(b Melbourne, Dec 1, 1878; d Toorak, Victoria, Oct 22, 1966).

Australian painter. He attended the National Gallery School in Melbourne from 1896 to 1904. In 1904 he went to Paris, where he studied under Jean-Paul Laurens from 1904 to 1906. While in Paris he rebelled against his academic training, but he also rejected the principles of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism. In paintings such as Night in Venice (1906; Mrs A. Niven priv. col., see 1979 exh. cat., pl. 5) he experimented with brushstrokes and paint texture while neglecting academic finish.

Bell left Paris in 1906 and went to England, where he became associated with a group of painters based in St Ives, among them Stanhope Forbes, the British painter Algernon Talmage (1871–1939) and Anders Zorn. While in England he joined the Modern Society of Portrait Painters, with whom he exhibited from 1907 to 1915. In 1908 he settled in London and joined the Chelsea Arts Club. He was appointed an Official War Artist in ...


Paula Furby

(b Hobart,1908; d Majorca, March 16, 1991).

Australian painter. Bellette studied at Hobart Technical School, then at Julian Ashton’s Sydney Art School. She married fellow student Paul Haefliger (1914–82) in 1935 and they moved to London in 1936, where Bellette studied at the Westminster School under Bernard Meninsky (1891–1950) and Mark Gertler. After returning to Sydney in 1939, the couple became leading figures in the Sydney art world. Bellette wrote articles for Art in Australia, exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society (1940–55) and in 1945, together with Haefliger, helped to found the Sydney Group.

Bellette painted landscape, still-life and nude subjects, but is renowned for her compositions of monumental figures clothed in classical drapery within generalized landscapes. Her art is considered to be part of the international classical revival in avant-garde art, which she had seen in London. However, in 1947, the Adelaide surrealist and critic, Ivor Francis (1906–93), claimed her work for Surrealism, likening it to that of the metaphysical painters Giorgio de Chirico and Massimo Campigli. Bellette’s figure compositions clearly evoke interior states of mind and, with their titles from classical mythology, such as ...


Gordon Campbell

Australian pottery founded in 1858 by a Scot, George Guthrie (1808–1909), in the town of Bendigo, Victoria. The factory made household wares, including acid bottles, bricks, clay pipes, roof tiles and tableware. During World War I it also made portrait jugs of military commanders, and in the 1930s it made agate-ware vases that were marketed as Waverly ware. The pottery is still active, but since ...


Rex Butler

(b 1955, Monto, Queensland; d June 3, 2014).

Australian Aboriginal painter. Bennett came to art late, after working throughout most of his 20s as a linesman for Telecom, he began studying at the Queensland College of Art, Brisbane, in 1986. He came to critical attention while still at art school, and just three years after graduating won the prestigious Moët et Chandon Australian Art Fellowship in 1991 with The Nine Ricochets (Fall Down Black Fella Jump Up White Fella) (1990). This important and extensively discussed work was a riposte to Imants Tillers’s The Nine Shots (1985), which appropriated from the work of the Western Desert artist Michael Nelson Tjakamarra. Bennett responded to Tillers by appropriating not only elements of Tillers’s own culture but also his method of appropriation itself. Throughout the 1990s, Bennett pursued an ambitious project of what could be called ‘contemporary history painting’, taking as his subject a series of colonial images and colonizing techniques, such as exploring, mapping and classifying. His aim was to open up a re-reading of Australian history, both to include an Aboriginal perspective and to show how Aborigines are taught to regard themselves in Western terms. Bennett has thought through this difficulty of representing Aborigines from his first works at art college, such as ...


Jan Minchin

(Vladimir Jossif)

(b Vienna, Oct 13, 1920).

Israeli painter of Austrian birth, active in Australia. He grew up in Warsaw. His father, the pseudonymous Jewish writer Melech Ravitch, owned books on German Expressionism, which were an early influence. Conscious of rising anti-Semitism in Poland, Ravitch visited Australia in 1934 and later arranged for his family to settle there. Bergner arrived in Melbourne in 1937. Poor, and with little English, his struggle to paint went hand-in-hand with a struggle to survive. In 1939 he attended the National Gallery of Victoria’s art school and came into contact with a group of young artists including Victor O’Connor (b 1918) and Noel Counihan, who were greatly influenced by Bergner’s haunting images of refugees, hard-pressed workers and the unemployed, for example The Pumpkin-eaters (c. 1940; Canberra, N.G.). Executed in an expressionist mode using a low-toned palette, they were among the first social realist pictures done in Australia.

In 1941...


Carol Magee

(b Bulawayo, 1959).

Zimbabwean sculptor. Bickle studied at Durban University and Rhodes University. She showed extensively in Zimbabwe in the 1980s and exhibited in India, Sweden and New Zealand in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Active in the arts in Bulawayo, she was a founding member of its Visual Artists’ Association. Her pieces are philosophical, both specifically in that she cites Foucault and Yourcenar, and generically in that they comment on the human condition: on hopes, dreams, conflicts and fantasies. Made of multiple manufactured and natural materials, her simple forms speak to complex situations, as seen in A Carta de Gaspar Veloso I, in which writings on parchment are used in conjunction with maps to evoke colonial histories. Her work is in both private and public collections in the US, Britain and Europe.

Art from the Frontline: Contemporary Art from Southern Africa (Glasgow, 1990), p. 125 H. Lieros: ‘Earth, Water, Fire: Recent Works by Berry Bickle’, ...


Miles Lewis


(b Melbourne, 1892; d April 17, 1986).

Australian architect. He was the first recipient of Melbourne University’s diploma in architecture, which had been instituted in 1906 but not brought immediately into operation: he completed the course in 1913 and the diploma was granted two years later. In 1916 he entered the office of American architect Walter Burley Griffin, as his first Australian assistant. While with him, Billson designed his own father’s house (1918) in Toorak in a chunky manner reminiscent of Griffin’s American work and much influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright; and the Margaret Armstrong house (1919), Caulfield. A year later Billson and a fellow employee, Roy Lippincott, were successful in the competition for the Arts building (completed 1926; for illustration see Auckland), University of Auckland, New Zealand. Lippincott left for New Zealand late in 1921, and Billson resigned from Griffin’s office in 1922 but remained in Melbourne. In 1922 Billson and Lippincott received an honourable mention for their entry in the ...


Anne Kirker

(b Wyong, NSW, Dec 6, 1940).

Australian painter, photographer and teacher. Binns trained as a painter at the National Art School, Sydney (1958–62) and held her first solo exhibition at Watters Gallery, Sydney in 1967. It comprised vividly coloured and decorative paintings, with explicit representations of female genitalia. This symbolic imagery predated a collective push by Australian women artists to produce work that they believed was inherently female. She initiated many community arts projects from the beginning of the 1970s and was an influential force in re-positioning women’s work. This took into account collaborative projects and a respect for amateur techniques and traditions that thrive outside the art world of metropolitan centres. Her community projects included Mothers’ Memories, Others’ Memories for Blacktown Municipality (1979–81) and the art workshop program Full Flight, which Binns conducted for women throughout rural New South Wales (1981–3). Her Tower of Babel, an ongoing work open to contributors by invitation, was initiated in Sydney in ...


Ian Keen

(b 1928; d 1982).

Australian Aboriginal painter. He was a leader of the Ngaladharr Djambarrpuyngu clan, Dhuwa moiety, who lived at Milingimbi mission (later Milingimbi township) for most of his adult life. His clan country was at Djarraya, Napier Peninsula, and the totemic ancestor to which he had particular affiliation was Ḏa:rrpa, King Brown Snake. According to Wells (pp. 229–30), Binyinyiwuy originally visited the mission only to raid the store or to ‘make havoc among the young women’, and he declared that he wanted nothing of white people or their ways. He was persuaded to settle when offered cash in return for bark paintings. He had a reputation among Yolngu of the Milingimbi region as a man of great knowledge. Together with his younger brother Djatijiwuy (b c. 1934), whose death in 1975 was a great blow, he was very active in the ritual life of the township and mainland community. The topics of Binyinyiwuy’s bark paintings between ...


Bio Art  

Suzanne Anker

From Anatomical studies to landscape painting to the Biomorphism of Surrealism, the biological realm historically provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art became a term referring to intersecting domains that comprise advances in the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in works of Bio Art is to summon awareness of the ways in which the accelerating biomedical sciences alter social, ethical and cultural values in society.

Coming to the fore in the early 1990s Bio Art is neither media specific nor locally bounded. It is an international movement with practitioners in such regions as Europe, the US, Russia, Australia and the Americas. Several subgenres of Bio Art exist within this overarching term:

(i) Artists who employ the iconography of the 20th and 21st century sciences, including molecular and cellular genetics, transgenically altered living matter and reproductive technologies as well as the diverse fields of neuroscience. All traditional media such as painting, sculpture, photography, printmaking and drawing are employed to convey novel ways of representing life forms. Images of chromosomes, the double helix, magnetic resonance imaging body scans and neuroanatomy comprise this iconography. The molecular underpinnings of the living world have also become visible through high technological instrumentation when artists incorporate such pictorialisations as part of their practice. Representations span both genotypic variations and phenotypic ones. Artists include Suzanne Anker (...


Ian North


(b Burnside, Adelaide, Dec 23, 1881; d Adelaide, Sept 13, 1951).

Australian painter and printmaker. She worked in an undistinguished tonal Impressionist style following her studies at the South Australian School of Art and Crafts, Adelaide, from c. 1909 and from 1915 at Julian Ashton’s Sydney Art School. Between 1927 and 1929 she learnt a more modern style and philosophy at the Grosvenor School of Art, London, and André Lhote’s academy in Paris, supplemented by lessons with Albert Gleizes: paintings such as the mildly Cubist Mirmande (c. 1928; Adelaide, A.G. S. Australia) were the result. Black was particularly influenced by the artistic theories of Clive Bell and at the Grosvenor School by the linocut teacher Claude Flight (1881–1955). In 1929 she returned to Sydney, where she attempted to promote the linocut as an original art form that the ordinary person could afford. Black’s most notable linocuts were produced between 1927 and 1937, for example Music (1927)....


Miles Lewis

(b Upton, Essex, 1803; d Melbourne, March 3, 1854).

Australian architect of English birth. He was employed in London as an inspector for the commissioners of sewers for Holborn and Finsbury, until his transportation to Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), with his wife and daughter in 1835, after forging a cheque. He was immediately employed in the Department of Roads and Bridges and was responsible for a great proportion of the colony’s road building, surveying and engineering work. When the department was merged into the Department of Public Works (1839), he began designing important government buildings; he was also able to operate privately in partnership with James Thjomsonn, as both architects and building contractors.

Although his buildings show the influence of John Claudius Loudon, Blackburn was also a powerful and innovative designer in his own right and was the first major exponent of the Picturesque in the Australian colonies (e.g. the Italianate extension of Rosedale of ...


Valerie A. Clack


(b London, Aug 25, 1817; d Sydney, Feb 9, 1883).

Australian architect, of English birth. He was the son of James Blacket, a London cloth merchant, and he initially worked in his father’s office and in a linen mill in Yorkshire before becoming a surveyor for the Stockton and Darlington Railway, where he must have obtained a knowledge of building. Blacket also sketched and measured old buildings in his spare time. In 1842 he moved to Sydney, where he obtained an appointment as a ‘valuator’ and perhaps also as an inspector of buildings. He received his first architectural commission in 1843 (All Saints, Singleton; destr.) and went on to become one of the leading architects in New South Wales in the mid-19th century. Appointed Diocesan Architect by 1847, he is known particularly for his Gothic Revival churches, mostly traditional in manner, of which he designed more than 50. Among them are simple country churches (e.g. at Berrima, Picton, Greendale and Wollombi); elegant city buildings (e.g. at Sydney: St Philip’s, ...


Terry Smith

(b Sydney, Aug 12, 1928).

Australian painter. An itinerant, largely self-taught young artist in the late 1940s, he was inspired by the depth of feeling of Picasso’s pink and blue periods, and by the Melbourne painters of the Angry Penguins group, especially their efforts to see intuitively and compose freely, as children might be supposed to do. In a profoundly disturbing series of drawings and paintings produced during the early 1950s, Blackman elaborated the theme of innocence within danger as thoroughly as any of his key sources of inspiration—William Blake, Giorgio De Chirico, Sidney Nolan and Joy Hester, and the Australian poet Shaw Neilson. The urban settings of such works seem especially threatening: in still factoryscapes, vacant lots and suburban streets empty of all but screaming billboards, schoolgirls walk, run, lie prone, even float, as if lost in the open desert. Deceptively simple, such paintings as Prone Schoolgirl (c. 1953; Melbourne, Heide Park A.G.) were striking metaphors, not just of Australia’s cultural isolation from Europe and of the consequent invasion of American consumerism, but also of the psychological impact of Hiroshima and the Cold War. In the ...


(b Middlesex, c. 1760; d New South Wales, 1804).

Australian architect of English birth. He was probably no more than a master-builder’s assistant by 1785 when he was sentenced to transportation. In January 1788 he arrived with the first fleet in the new colony of New South Wales at Port Jackson, Sydney, and as an experienced brickmaker he was immediately put in charge of the brickworks at Brickfield Hill, producing the first bricks for the colony three months after arrival. He became Australia’s first architect when Governor Arthur Phillip put him in charge of permanent building projects, including the first Government House (completed 1789; destr.), erected on a hill overlooking Sydney Cove. This two-storey building was the first in the colony to have architectural pretensions; built of brick with stone dressings and a hipped roof, it had glazed sash windows brought from England and a projecting gabled frontispiece, the central doorway surrounded by glazed sidelights and a semicircular fanlight. Although simple, the building embodied the principles of Georgian design in which Bloodworth was well grounded. Later extended and constantly under repair, it served as Government House for 56 years. Other buildings designed by Bloodworth in ...


(b Parchim, Jan 16, 1897; d Perth, 1990).

Australian painter of German birth. Blumann studied at the Berlin Academy of Art under Max Liebermann and Käthe Kollwitz. Influenced by their example, as well as the Der Sturm artists, her favoured style was a robust Expressionism. In 1923 she married Dr Arnold Blumann and they migrated to Perth in 1938. There her expressionist techniques were combined with a sensitivity to the local light and colour of the Western Australian landscape, charting in particular the Swan River near her home in Nedlands. While her bold and energetic landscape works were accepted, her unashamed approach to the human figure was not tolerated so well. For example, in her 1944 exhibition (held under the anglicized name Elise Burleigh), images of nude bodies in the landscape caused a great deal of controversy. In 1942, with Robert Campbell of the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Blumann established the Perth Art Group, to cultivate local interest in modern art. She also gave private lessons in her home and sought to unleash her students’ innate creativity. After travelling through Europe in the 1950s and 1960s, her output and exhibiton rate diminished. Her first major retrospective in Gallery G in ...


(b London, Nov 13, 1905; d Hobart, Jan 1, 1985).

Australian architect of English birth. In 1918 Blythe obtained a scholarship to attend the London County Council School of Building (later known as the Brixton School of Building). Blythe’s family moved to Tasmania in 1921, where he continued his architectural training at the Hobart Technical College (HTC) while articled to local architect William Rudolph Waldemar Koch. Between 1925 and 1930 Blythe worked for the Electrolytic Zinc Company and the Public Works Department (PWD), Tasmania. In 1927 Blythe received an honourable mention for his Beaux-Arts inspired entry in the Australian Canberra War Memorial Competition.

Towards the end of 1930 Blythe returned to London. In 1933 he was awarded second place in the Building Centre Cottage Competition and in 1934 he returned to Tasmania to a position with the PWD. Between 1935 and 1949 Blythe designed all the principal PWD buildings in Tasmania. Of particular note are the many schools that Blythe designed, including the Ogilvie High School (...