Dorrit Black never received the praise she deserved during her lifetime, but she has left us with some beautiful and interesting art. Despite considerable prejudice against her, she was determined not only to produce her own works but also to help other people in Australia enjoy the Modernistic and Cubist styles which were becoming so fashionable in Europe. Dorrit’s skills were wide-ranging. Perhaps, she was best known for her pioneering printing. She also produced some very fine watercolours, oils and was a skilled draughtswoman as well. Although Dorrit never achieved financial success during her lifetime, her paintings are now worth respectable prices.
Frederick Williams was noteworthy for not only being a prolific painter but is also celebrated for his etchings. He learned to draw in the traditional manner, copying from plaster casts. Fred became interested in etching from studying prints of Rembrandt and Goya at the British Museum and spent many hours making them. But when Fred returned home, he started to move away from his mainly figure-based work to painting landscapes. One painting sold for, what was at the time, the second-highest recorded price for any work sold at an Australian auction. Fred held more than 70 solo exhibitions both in Australia and abroad. His works can now be found in numerous galleries in Australia.
John Perceval had his first exposure to art books when he attended Trinity Grammar and continued his hobby of drawing and painting by copying the old masters. When John was 14, he was disabled by poliomyelitis for more than a year and spent his recuperation by again copying art illustrations from books. In 1941, Perceval’s application for active military service was denied as he was declared unfit, but he was drafted to the Army Survey Corps as a draughtsman with the Cartographic Company. After the war, Perceval’s paintings turned to religious subjects. Despite a troubled life, John Perceval received many awards, took part in a number of exhibitions and influenced a few artists in his lifetime.
Martin Ritchie Sharp did not have a close relationship with either of his parents, but his mother still encouraged his early leanings towards art. Martin attended his first art exhibition at age nine. His art teacher recognised his talent and recommended that he study at the National Art School in East Sydney. Sharp’s first solo exhibition was held in 1965 at the Clune Galleries in Sydney and was hugely successful, being almost a sell-out on the first night. Sharp also produced posters for musicians including Bob Dylan and Donovan. Having never married or had children, his will specified that his home Wirian become ‘a hub for art education and that it should foster awareness of his work’.
Albert Tucker was interested in art from a very young age. He had a premonition then that he would become an artist. But to help supplement the family income, he left school and worked as a house painter, where he developed lead poisoning. Albert turned towards Communism when he worked for a commercial artist; he felt exploited. Albert then left the company, and with a group of like-minded artists, formed The Angry Penguins. During and after World War II, casualties from both sides of the war had a traumatic effect on him. The same can be said of the deaths of those he knew as he made portraits of them.
Frank Hurley had quite an adventurous life. Right at the age of thirteen, he ran away from home when he got involved in an incident with his teacher. His passion for photography was born when he was employed as an apprentice fitter. However, this same passion caused him to lose his job. He met and went into business with a commercial photographer when he returned to Sydney. Frank had a reputation of putting himself in the line of danger for a good shot. His real adventure, however, began when he undertook expeditions to the Antarctic, one of which was the famous expedition with Ernest Shackleton on the Endurance.
Claude Pannka was among the visual artist and Aboriginal painter of Central Australian Landscape. He was also the original watercolour artist whose vibrant and bright colours were easily exclusive. This man was adjudged one of the best students of Albert Namatjira, who taught him how to paint. As a matter of fact, Claude Pannka’s style of painting followed the familial spirit of Namatjira, where colours shift fast and merge continuously with another colour to form visual tone before the eyes. With this painting style and practice, Claude Pannka knew where he was going precisely, immediately the composition began. It was like he was just transliterating country into paint.
Brett Whiteley won his first art prize at age seven. Early in life, his works were influenced by Welsh painter Augustus John and sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein. Brett was a very talented artist, winning several awards, and his inspirations ranged from bathing to animals and even mass murderers. His personal life was just as intriguing. He suffered from drug addiction, which ironically appeared to only enhance his art. He also had quite a few affairs. Both of which led to his wife filing for divorce. And tragically, his drug and alcohol addiction ultimately led him to his demise. Nonetheless, Brett’s work saw him win awards and continued to sell for vast sums after his death.
Nobody knew the Namatjira family, but with the beginning of the watercolour movement, which Albert Namatjira was one of the founding fathers, the family’s name is one of the household names across the world. As a result, the family is doing everything possible to uphold the name. Despite the fact that Albert Namatjira died as a broken man, his family is now enjoying the legacy and goodwill he left behind as a result of the copyright returned to them after many years of long struggle and injustice. The restoration of this copyright will ensure that the Namatjira family and the tradition of the watercolour movement in the Western Desert lingers on.
Australian art is referred to as any art concerning or made in Australia or created by the Australians who are residing abroad, right from the ancient periods till today. The foremost artistic representations of the Australia scene by European artists were generally natural history illustrations, portraying the unique fauna and flora of the land for scientific functions, and the landscape of the coast. All the drawings of the colony were fashioned and created by soldiers and condemned artists, until the turn of the century. The genesis of a clearly Australian painting tradition was regularly linked with the Heidelberg School of the late 19th century.
Dorothy Napangardi was one of the foremost artists of the modern Aboriginal art movement. The work of this woman was highly sought after by both curators and collectors all over the world. Dorothy’s work rotated around the sprinkled representations of the landscape around her home town. They surveyed dissimilar and complex representations of its sandhills and salt pans. Dorothy focused on the movement to grab the attention of the onlooker. She accomplished this feat as a result of her extraordinary spatial intellect and compositional capability. Dorothy had several groups and unaccompanied presentations both in Australia and abroad. Her art is now available in collections of numerous museums.
Minnie Pwerle was an Aboriginal artist who started painting when she was about the age of 80. Whenever anybody asked her why she had not started work earlier, “no one had asked her” was always her response. Her style of painting was impulsive and characterised by intrepid and lively colour carried out with great autonomy. Her pictures quickly became popular and adored works of modern Indigenous Australian art. However, there was pressure from those who are eager to get her work. Spry and sociable, she could exceed younger women, even in her eighties, and she kept making artworks until two days before she died.
Albert Namatjira was the most celebrated Indigenous Australian of his time because he was a founder and brain behind the modern Aboriginal Australian art. Albert Namatjira was prominent for his representation of the Australian bush. He grew up in a mission very far away from his family. During that time, he normally sneaked out from the precincts of the mission to survey the Australian bush. He was familiar with the western technique of painting. With this nurtured artistic aesthetics in him, he drew the panoramic beauty of the bush in his free time. Some of the works of this legend are now on display in a number of major galleries in Australia.
The Hermannsburg Mission was established by Louis Harms on 12 October 1849. It’s an establishment acknowledged by the state church. It was the last and longest-running Mission controlled by the Lutheran Church in Australia. The missionaries on the ground were educated on how to speak the Arrente language to make sure what they taught were understood. The Hermannsburg Mission celebrated its 140th anniversary in the 500th year of the Lutheran Church in 2017, and it carries on with the custom of doing open-air bush camps with aboriginal pastors. The Hermannsburg mission still manages a mission seminary in Hermannsburg, where young theologians are normally equipped service in one of the ELM partner churches till today.
David Bromley was born in England but he and his family emigrated to Australia and settled in Adelaide. He dropped out of school after suffering from phobias at age 14. His demons saw him spiral into a period of instability and had no direction in his life. However, he took up pottery and it developed into painting. Regular solo and group exhibitions throughout major cities in Australia followed. Bromley was a finalist for the coveted Archibald Prize for a few times. He is also known for painting surfboards and for his sculptures. Although, he had been criticised for his ‘pop-art commercialism’. Despite some critical disdain of his work, he can currently be seen in various prestigious galleries.
Aboriginal Art comprises of artworks created in diverse ways such as wood carving, sculpting, rock carving, painting on leaves, sand painting, and ceremonial clothing decoration. It is intimately associated with rituals or religious ceremonies. There was no documented language for the Aboriginal People of Australia. As a result, important cultural stories were conveyed from one generation to another with the aid of artworks, symbols and icons. Australian Aboriginal Art has been known as the most exhilarating modern art variety of the 20th Century, but it was not until the 1930s that the earliest paintings were carried out. Aboriginal Art has both anthropological and artistic merit, which made it very unique and significant.
English-born John Glover showed an early interest in wildlife and was to be found sketching birds and nature as a child. He also began painting in oil and watercolour while at the school. For the next nine years or so, Glover exhibited his paintings developed from sketching tours. Glover is renowned for his work on the Tasmanian landscape. Previous English painters had tended to paint Australian scenes as ‘English country gardens’ but he captured the light and bush as it was. However, his realistic views were not always translated to his work depicting the local populace. He is now well recognised in Australia with the John Glover Society being established in August 2001.
John Stuart Dowie is best known for his sculptures but is also widely known as an artist. At an early age, his aptitude for drawing became apparent when he attended the Rose Park Primary School. John began holding exhibitions in 1933 until 1969. He continued to attend night classes until he enlisted in the Australian Infantry Forces. When the war ended, Dowie returned to Adelaide, completing his studies. His war experiences persuaded him to travel to London and Italy where he studied art. It was at this point that he swapped sculpting for painting. Despite the honours, Dowie was always apprehensive about a new commission. Today, his work can be found throughout Australia, mostly in Adelaide.