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Article

(b London, c. 1843; d Perth, Western Australia, May 8, 1879).

Australian watercolourist, Soldier, colonist and businessman of English descent. The son of the watercolour painter John Absolon (1815–95), he served in the Queen’s Rifles and exhibited paintings and sketches with the Society of British Artists before first visiting Western Australia in 1869. Shipboard watercolour sketches and many studies of the bushland environs of Perth, such as From the Verandah at Northam, (1869–70; see Kerr, p. 5) recorded this first journey. He returned to England to marry Sarah Bowles Habgood, the niece of Thomas Habgood, an influential colonist, and daughter of Robert Mace Habgood, who divided his business and shipping interests between London, Fremantle and Geraldton. The couple returned to Perth, Western Australia, where Absolon helped manage the family’s mining and mercantile interests. The firm of R. W. Habgood & Co. of Fremantle and London was known thereafter as Habgood Absolon & Co. He adapted his painting methods to an impressionistic manner that captured the harsh light and sparsely vegetated antipodean landscape. He also represented the London Art Union in Western Australia from ...

Article

(b Holywood, County Down, Ireland, Jan 26, 1922).

Australian painter, printmaker, book designer, lecturer, collector, gallery director and publisher of limited edition artists’ books, of Irish decent. He worked as a draughtsman before entering war service in the British Admiralty from 1940 to 1949, including five years in Colombo, where he made sketching trips to jungle temples with the Buddhist monk and artist Manjsiro Thero. Between 1949 and 1951 Adams worked as an exhibition designer in London and studied wood-engraving with Gertrude Hermes in her evening class at the Central School of Arts and Crafts (now Central St Martin’s College of Art and Design). In 1951, after moving to Melbourne, Adams began a 30-year teaching commitment at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), where he instructed many of the younger generation of Australian printmakers, including George Baldessin and Jan Senbergs. A brief return to Britain and Ireland in 1957–8 provided experience with Dolmen Press, Dublin, which published his first book of engravings, ...

Article

Miles Lewis

(b Ireland, April 26, 1791; d Stanley, Tasmania, Dec 4, 1852).

Australian architect of Irish birth. He trained in the London office of the architect Charles Beazley and worked for five years for John Rennie, before spending eight years in architectural and engineering work in Ireland. In 1826 he was appointed Civil Engineer for Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), and he arrived at Hobart Town in 1827. He served as colonial architect as well as civil engineer for eleven years, during the first nine of which he was responsible for all government buildings, including military and penal works. His design for the Ordnance Stores, Hobart (1834), shows the austere and megalomaniac stamp of late 18th-century Neo-classicism, but only the less important sections were built, in 1834–8. His Customs House, Hobart (now Parliament House), begun in 1835 and completed by James Blackburn, shows the influence of the Greek Revival, and his monument to Lieutenant-Governor David Collins (1837–8) is Greek in the manner of John Soane. His churches show Regency and Tudor characteristics and are less sophisticated. Archer’s finest engineering work was the bridge on the Midland Highway at Ross, designed on principles derived from Rennie’s work, and enhanced by the fantastically carved voussoirs executed by convict stonemasons....

Article

J. N. Mané-Wheoki

(b London, 1832 or 1833; d Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb 22, 1883).

New Zealand architect of English birth. In 1862, after a lengthy apprenticeship in Melbourne, Australia, Armson arrived in New Zealand. He spent two years (1862–4) in the engineering department of the Otago provincial government, Dunedin, and from 1866 to 1870 he practised in Hokitika on the West Coast. Christchurch, where he finally settled in 1870, nurtured the most productive phase of his career. Inspired by Victorian London’s palazzo-style clubs and Venetian Gothic office blocks, Armson transformed the commercial heart of Christchurch. In Hereford Street alone he designed 12 substantial buildings, but only the Fisher Building (1880), a wedge-shaped structure in Italian Gothic, survives. Elsewhere in Christchurch the former Library (1875), Boys’ High School (1879), Girls’ High School (1880), Anderson’s Shops, Borough Hotel and Butterworth’s Warehouse (1881) demonstrate his versatility in handling historicist vocabularies, while the Loan and Mercantile Company’s Store (...

Article

Terry Smith

(b Bolton, Lancs, May 1, 1935).

Australian painter of English birth. He emigrated to Australia in 1950, settling in the coal and steel town Wollongong, where he worked as a painter and signwriter for 12 years, despite having no formal tuition. In 1964 he moved to Sydney and in 1965 exhibited simple colour studies inspired by the work of Washington Color Painters Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis, seen in both travelling exhibitions of American art and art magazine reproduction. Many young Australian artists adopted such mentors: they were interpreted, initially, through the framework of English perceptions of these artists, yet were soon seen more directly and adapted to local needs.

In 1969 Aspden broke with the stripes, circles, bands and grids ubiquitous in 1960s art, favouring ‘torn’ shapes of single colours, intensely hued and set against each other in flowing patchwork or in flashing horizontal runs across the canvas. In size, scale and surety, these paintings rivalled American work of the time. Their emphatically warm colours and vitality conveyed something of the energetic spirit of Sydney and of the eastern coastline of Australia. They reached a climax in the ...

Article

John Stacpoole

City in New Zealand. It is situated on a narrow isthmus between the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean in the north of the country’s North Island. The city is an important port, with harbours on both sides of the isthmus. It is New Zealand’s largest centre of commerce and industry, with a metropolitan population of c. 900,000. European settlement began in 1840, when the British Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson chose the isthmus as the site for the capital of the new colony of New Zealand. In 1841 the Surveyor General drew up an elaborate town plan, but the unfavourable topography and early economic conditions meant that little of it was executed, although considerable foresight was shown then and subsequently in setting aside areas of parkland. The most significant surviving buildings of the early colonial period are the Old Government House (1855–7) by William Mason and Hulme Court (...

Article

(b San Biagio di Callalta, nr Treviso, May 19, 1939; d Melbourne, Aug 9, 1978).

Australian sculptor and draughtsman . After spending his childhood in Italy, he moved to Australia (1949). From 1958 to 1961 he was at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. He travelled to London in 1962, where he studied printmaking at the Chelsea School of Arts. He then travelled to Milan and studied sculpture under Marino Marini at the Accademia di Belle Arti. After his return to Melbourne, he had his first one-man show of sculptures and etchings at the Argus Gallery in 1964. Many of his etchings of this period and later included circus characters and were inspired by the films of Ingmar Bergman and Luis Buñuel. Bergman’s Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), for example, has the violent distortion of the human figure characteristic of Baldessin’s series Stars and Sawdust and Stars and Sawdust II (1963; T. Baldessin priv. col., see 1983 exh. cat., pl. 9). His early sculptures also had distorted and tormented figures, as in ...

Article

Peter Bridges

(b Almerclose, Scotland, Oct 17, 1827; d Sydney, Dec 17, 1904).

Australian architect of Scottish birth. He studied at the School of Design in London and emigrated to Sydney in 1854. After working for Edmund Blacket, he joined the New South Wales Colonial Architect’s Office as a clerk of works in 1860; in 1862 he was appointed Colonial Architect, responsible for all public buildings in the state except railway structures and schools. The period 1860 to 1890 was one of expansion, and under Barnet’s leadership more than 1000 new public buildings were erected. Strongly influenced by the work of Charles Robert Cockerell, Barnet developed an identifiable ‘house style’ with imposing Italianate designs that were well suited to their official status. His major works in Sydney, including the Australian Museum (1864), the arcaded General Post Office (1866–86), the Lands Department (1876–90) with an onion-domed clock–tower and the Customs House (1885) in trabeated classical style, were landmarks that changed a provincial town into a Victorian city. On a smaller scale, his court houses and post offices are still distinguished features of many country towns. An outstanding organizer, he designed and built the huge Garden Palace (...

Article

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 ...

Article

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...

Article

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’, ...

Article

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 (...

Article

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 ...

Article

Valerie A. Clack

(Thomas)

(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, ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

(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 (...

Article

Betsy L. Chunko

(b Le Mans, Nov 1, 1908; d Brisbane, Australia, July 7, 1995).

French architectural historian, active also in America. Bony was educated at the Sorbonne, receiving his agregation in geography and history in 1933. In 1935, converted to art history by Henri(-Joseph) Focillon, he travelled to England under a research grant from the Sorbonne, after which time he became Assistant Master in French at Eton College (1937–9 and 1945–6). He returned to France in 1939 as an infantry lieutenant in World War II in the French Army, was taken as a prisoner of war and spent the years 1940–43 in an internment camp in Germany. After the war he returned to England, first to Eton, then as Lecturer in the History of Art at the French Institute in London (1946–61), Visiting Lecturer at the Courtauld Institute of Art (1948–58), and Slade Professor of Fine Art at St John’s College, Cambridge (1958–61). From 1961 to 1962...

Article

(b Sheffield, Nov 2, 1940).

Australian painter of English birth. He attended drawing classes at the Sheffield College of Art from 1956 to 1957, and in 1958 he emigrated to Australia. There he worked as a labourer until 1962 when he entered the National Gallery School in Melbourne, studying painting until 1965. He then taught painting at the Prahran Technical College in Melbourne from 1965 to 1969. In 1969 he had his first one-man exhibition at Pinacotheca in Melbourne and exhibited in the same year at the Central Street Gallery in Sydney. He then gave up teaching and returned to labouring work. His early paintings were hard-edge abstract works, and slowly, within this style, black came to dominate his paintings. By 1971 they were wholly black, sometimes with coloured edges on three sides, as in Painting (1971; Melbourne, N.G. Victoria). He used black to signify social alienation and associated the colour with the industrial landscapes around his native Sheffield; he sought out similar areas in Melbourne....

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Sunshine, Victoria, March 26, 1961, d London, Dec 31, 1994).

Australian fashion designer and performance artist. He arrived in Britain from Australia in 1980 and set up as a fashion designer in London’s Kensington Market, selling clothes he had made with his partner. His regular and increasingly outlandish appearances on the club circuit led to his opening the club Taboo in Leicester Square in 1985, within which he developed his performing persona. In 1988 he made his first foray into the mainstream London art scene with a one-week performance at the Anthony D’Offay Gallery. Every afternoon for one week Bowery improvised a performance in front of a one-way mirror, wearing a different costume each time and accompanied by a soundtrack of traffic sounds; the narcissism of his outlandish preening and posing, exposed to the audience with a literal transparency, was all the more comical and outrageous given his large and ungainly appearance. His subsequent performances include an appearance in 1993...