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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

John Hovell

(b Wairoa, Hawke’s Bay, NZ, Aug 27, 1939).

Maori painter, carver, weaver, costume and stage designer. His involvement with art began at Te Aute Maori Boys’ College (1954–7), Hawke’s Bay, Waipawa County, and continued with formal art training at Ardmore Teachers’ College (1958–9) and at Dunedin Teachers’ College (1960), where he trained as an art specialist. He subsequently worked for the Department of Education as an arts and crafts adviser and served on committees for national art education policies, the Historic Places Trust (with particular reference to Maori sites), art museums and tribal committees (dealing with traditional and customary art forms and architecture). He helped to promote contemporary developments in Maori arts for community buildings, meeting houses, churches and public sites, serving on private and governmental commissions. In his own work he maintains a balance between the conservation of older traditional materials and forms of Maori arts and the experimental use of new materials, such as composite chipboard, synthetic dyes, plastic-coated basketry fibres and composite, laminated board. His painted and woven-fibre works are notable for their rich but subtle colours and controlled sense of line. They vary in size from complex architectural installations or stage designs for the Royal New Zealand Ballet to designs for postage stamps. At Te Huki Meeting House (...

Article

Michael Dunn

(b Auckland, May 7, 1943).

New Zealand painter. She studied at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland, from 1960 to 1963 and subsequently travelled extensively in the USA and Europe. Her paintings are abstractions with a basis in nature, to which she alludes in her titles. An early and enduring influence on her work were the colour paintings of Helen Frankenthaler. Albrecht’s painting is distinguished by its strong colouring and feeling. Among her most important works are her Hemisphere paintings from a series begun in 1981, in which the canvases are semi-circular. An example is the Fire and the Rose (1984; Wanganui, Sarjeant A.G.). Since 1989 Albrecht has been working on an oval format and has introduced a deeper, more reflective tone to her paintings. Her work is represented in public art galleries in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and in private collections worldwide.

After Nature: Gretchen Albrecht. A Survey: 23 Years (exh. cat., ed. ...

Article

Michael Dunn

revised by Edward Hanfling

[Henrietta] (Catherine)

(b Hastings, March 12, 1908; d Wellington, Jan 26, 1970).

New Zealand painter. Angus studied at the Canterbury School of Art, Christchurch (1927–33). In 1930 she married the artist Alfred Cook (1907–70) and used the signature Rita Cook until 1946; they had separated in 1934. Her painting Cass (1936; Christchurch, NZ, A.G.) is representative of the regionalist school that emerged in Canterbury during the late 1920s, with the small railway station visualizing both the isolation and the sense of human progress in rural New Zealand. The impact of North American Regionalism is evident in Angus’s work of the 1930s and 1940s. However, Angus was a highly personal painter, not easily affiliated to specific movements or styles. Her style involved a simplified but fastidious rendering of form, with firm contours and seamless tonal gradations (e.g. Central Otago). Her paintings were invested with symbolic overtones, often enigmatic and individual in nature. The portrait of Betty Curnow...

Article

Janet Spens

Australian group of artists formed in Melbourne in February 1959 and active until January 1960. The founder-members were the art historian Bernard Smith (b 1916), who was elected chairman, and the painters Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, David Boyd (b 1924), John Brack, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh. They were joined subsequently by the Sydney-based painter Bob Dickerson (b 1924). Smith chose the name of the group and compiled the Antipodean Manifesto, the appearance of which coincided with the inaugural exhibition, The Antipodeans, held in the Victorian Artists’ Society rooms in Melbourne in August 1959. The group’s main concern was to promote figurative painting at a time when non-figurative painting and sculpture were becoming established as the predominant trend in Australia, as in the USA and Europe. To gain a more prestigious venue to show their work, the group asked Smith to enlist the support of Kenneth Clark, who responded by suggesting the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The Gallery’s director, ...

Article

Marco Livingstone

(b Melbourne, May 5, 1951; d Melbourne, July 22, 1999).

Australian painter. While studying painting at Prahran College, Melbourne, from 1969 to 1971, he discovered airbrushes, technical tools employed by commercial artists which he adopted with alacrity as his favoured instrument for picture-making. At art school Arkley met the collage artist and painter Elizabeth Gower, who had a significant influence over his work. They married in 1973, later separating in 1980. In 1977 he travelled to Paris and New York on residencies, and it was during this time that he became fascinated by architectural motifs as inspirations for painting. In Paris he assiduously photographed Art Nouveau and Art Deco doorways in black and white, intending to use these images as reference points for paintings on his return to Australia. Once back there, however, he decided that he needed to find imagery and subject-matter relevant to his own identity as an Australian. While ringing the doorbell of his mother’s house in suburban Melbourne, he noticed the flywire screen door and realized at once that this indigenous architectural feature, banal and disregarded, would be a much more suitable subject than the artistic doorways of Paris. Following this revelation, he made a succession of identically sized paintings in an elongated vertical format corresponding to these flywire screens, but betraying an astonishing variety of motifs and colour schemes. ...

Article

Within a half-century of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and Maori chiefs in 1840—the event from which the beginning of New Zealand (Aotearoa) is generally dated (and leaving aside from the present discussion the tribal art of the indigenous Maori and the early art created by European navigators, explorers, surveyors, itinerant artists, soldiers, and the like)—a rudimentary infrastructure of public art galleries, art societies, and some art schools had arisen in the main cities—Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, and Dunedin—and the beginnings of a discourse concerning the character and purpose of the visual arts in the new nation emerged. The central question was whether or not such a phenomenon as ‘New Zealand art’ existed or should exist and what characteristics it should aspire to. These matters were vigorously debated for a decade or so either side of 1890 when the infant nation marked its 50th anniversary with a jubilee. The discourse about national identity then largely disappeared for a generation only to emerge again a decade or so either side of ...

Article

Article

(Rossi)

(b Alderstone, England, Jan 27, 1851; d Bondi, Sydney, April 27, 1942).

Australian painter and writer . He attended the West London School of Art and, following the end of the Franco-Prussian War in 1871, the Académie Julian in Paris. In 1878 the newspaper owner David Syme invited Ashton to Melbourne to produce black-and-white illustrations for the Illustrated Australian News. After a disagreement with the management he transferred to the rival Australasian Sketcher. In 1883 he went to Sydney, where he joined the staff of the Picturesque Atlas of Australia and also contributed to the Sydney Bulletin. Ashton was an ardent disciple of Impressionist painting and claimed to have executed the first plein-air landscape in Australia: Evening, Merri Creek (1882; Sydney, A.G. NSW). Much of his work, as in the watercolour A Solitary Ramble (1888; Sydney, A.G. NSW), had a strong sentimental streak. In addition to his outdoor works Ashton painted a number of portraits, such as that of Helen Ashton...

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

(b Bothenhampton, Dorset, Aug 12, 1890; d Sydney, 1964).

Australian painter . After spending his early life in England, he moved to Sydney (1913). He began painting in 1922 and at the same time started work as a painter-decorator, a job he did until his retirement in 1956. During the 1920s he attended evening classes at the Sydney Art School under Julian Rossi Ashton. His artistic career did not really begin until 1934 when he participated in life classes with the Australian painters Frank Hinder (b 1906), Grace Crowley (1890–1979) and Rah Fizelle (1891–1964) at the Crowley–Fizelle art school in Sydney. When the school closed in 1937 he continued to paint with Crowley at her studio. In August 1939 Balson took part with Crowley, Hinder, Fizelle and others in the important Exhibition I show at the David Jones Gallery in Sydney. The works exhibited were all semi-abstract, largely influenced by Cubism, and included Balson’s ...

Article

Jeanette Hoorn

(b Bushy Creek, Victoria, c. 1824; d Coranderrk, Aug 15, 1903).

Australian Aboriginal painter and leader of the Wurundjeri people of Woi-Worung. His ancestral country was that surrounding the Yarra River and Port Phillip in Melbourne. He was related to the signatories of Batman’s Treaty of 1835 in which the Woi-Worung are thought to have ceded their land to the British Crown. Educated by Presbyterian missionaries, Barak fought a succession of governments who acted in the interests of pastoralists, in an effort to maintain the land that had been ‘granted’ to them at Coranderrk, near Healesville in Victoria.

Barak drew and painted in a figurative style on cardboard and thick paper, in charcoal, pencil, ochre, natural dyes and watercolour wash. His paintings detail the ceremonial lives of his community with many works showing the configurations associated with corroborees. Native animals including lyrebirds emus, snakes and echidnas are prominently represented in his compositions. A feature of his pictures is the extraordinary detail of the patterning found in the individual costumes of Wurundjeri and, in particular, the fine possum cloaks worn by them. Few of these original garments still exist but Barak’s paintings have inspired contemporary indigenous artists such as Treahna Hamm (...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

(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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

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 ...

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

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 ...

Article

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 ...