LDFA Season’s Greetings

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art extends our warm wishes to all for a happy and safe festive season. We thank everyone who continues to support the Gallery and it has been a privilege to present the exhibition of artworks by Hilda Rix Nicholas. We have enjoyed meeting and speaking with many of you at art fairs in Melbourne and Sydney and look forward to bringing an ongoing selection of Australian art to you in the new year.

The Gallery will close for the extended summer break from Thursday 21 December and reopen Tuesday 30 January 2024. The best contact is via email during this time: ausart@diggins.com.au

Image: Stephen Bowers Camouflage Plate Adelaide Rosella 2023 earthenware with underglaze decoration and clear glaze, diam: 33.5 cm

Hilda Rix Nicholas exhibition now showing at LDFA

HildaRixNicholas exhibition installation at LDFA
Hilda Rix Nicholas exhibition installation at LDFA

Our exhibition of paintings and drawings by Hilda Rix Nicholas is now on show after a crowded opening attended by the artist’s granddaughter, Bronwyn Wright and with introductory words by Dr Gerard Vaughan AM, former Director of the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. A video of this illuminating speech is available to view on our website, where you can also download the illustrated catalogue and read further about the artist with an essay by Dr Sarah Engledow and an insight into the artist’s use of materials in Morocco by conservator, Catherine Nunn.

HildaRixNicholas catalogue cover
HildaRixNicholas catalogue

The exhibition is enhanced by posters, photographs and costumes, giving background and context to the artworks which represent the diverse range of her long and successful career, from Paris to Morocco to Etaples and Brittany, as well as images of Mosman and travels in northern NSW, to her later images from her time at ‘Knockalong’, a sheep station in the Monaro region, including landscapes, portraits and images of her son Rix.

The exhibition is on show until 1 December.

For further details see our website

AAADA Fair Sydney University

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art at the Australian Arts and Antiques Dealers Association Fair at the beautiful and historic Great Hall at Sydney University. We are showing a selection of Australian colonial, impressionist, modern and contemporary artworks.

Friday 1 – Sunday 3 September – for full details visit aaada.org.au

A Closer Look At… Pastels

Two Australian artists who were acclaimed for their pastel technique are Janet Cumbrae Stewart and Florence Rodway. We are pleased to currently have eye-catching works by each of these artists, allowing us to to Take A Closer Look At… their mastery of pastel.

Florence Rodway established a significant reputation, particularly in her favoured medium of pastel and was sought after for portrait commissions from both institutions and private clients, including Dame Nellie Melba; J. F. Archibald (her portrait being a finalist in the inaugural Archibald prize); Julian Ashton and Henry Lawson.

In Rodway’s Portrait, we are intrigued by the modern woman meeting the viewer’s gaze, in the manner of Preston’s Flapper (1925, collection of the National Gallery of Australia) and Hilda Rix Nicholas’ Une Australienne (1926, collection of the National Gallery of Australia). Rodway has presented her sitter front on and with a great degree of directness with a focus on the face, the background seeming to support and highlight the figure and at the same time, simply melt away. Her outfit transports us to another era. Rodway uses bold, broken, parallel, vigorous linear strokes and strong colour focus. There is a sense of dynamism and we feel the presence of the sitter.

Janet Cumbrae Stewart’s work comprised portraits, landscapes, and still lifes, particularly flower studies however she is most well known for depicting the female nude in pastel. These works were not driven by a narrative focus, rather the sensuous and gracefulness of the figure with a focus on colour and texture.

In The Old Shawl we see a device favoured by Cumbrae Stewart, with a shawl draped over the model’s shoulder, providing a contrast between the richly coloured material and the soft flesh tones, offset by the model’s dark hair. With her head turned to the right, allowing for a tension in the pose where the left shoulder, right elbow and the gentle profile are highlighted.

Janet Cumbrae Stewart’s artwork is today viewed through a lens acknowledging her lesbian sexual preferences, providing another layer of intimacy to her celebration of the female form.

In each of these artworks, the delicacy of the pastel medium is matched with a vigour in the strokes on the paper and pastel lends itself to capturing both luminous skin tones contrasted against bold blue and red in the Cumbrae Stewart and velvety black in the Rodway. The sketchy nature of the background in each accentuates the figure.

To Take A Closer Look At… the pastels of Florence Rodway and Janet Cumbrae Stewart please click here.

Helen Tiernan at Artspace Box Hill

TIERNAN, Woi Wurrung Ancient Bark Canoe, 222058, 40x30cm - NBP_R copy
HELEN TIERNAN Woi Wurrung Ancient Bark Canoe oil on canvas 40 x 30 cm

Visit the Connections exhibition to view Helen Tiernan’s fascinating paintings.

Tiernan’s landscapes blend elements from European and Indigenous artistic traditions, signifying the rich tapestry of her mixed cultural connections. They invite viewers to contemplate the interconnectedness of humanity and nature and are displayed alongside artworks by First Nations artists from the Whitehorse art collection.

Connections showing at Artspace Box Hill until 12 August.

View further works by Helen Tiernan on our website or Contact us for details about new works to the Gallery.

Helen Tiernan Colonial Cattle series #3 2023 oil on canvas 66 x 45.5 cm (oval)

LDFA at AAADA Antiques and Fine Art Fair 2023


We are pleased to be exhibiting at this year’s Australian Antique and Art Dealers Association Fair being held at the historic Malvern Town Hall over the King’s Birthday long weekend (10 – 12 June).

We will highlight a selection of Australian artworks from colonial, impressionist, modern and contemporary artists. For further details see our website and please contact us if you are interested in obtaining a complimentary entry ticket.

AAADA Fair 2023

Friday 9 June 4pm – 9pm Opening Preview

Saturday 10 June 10am – 6pm

Sunday 11 June 10am – 6pm

Monday 12 June 10am – 3pm

For tickets go to: https://www.trybooking.com/CGGLI

Vale John Olsen

The art world is saddened by the death of John Olsen AO OBE (1928 – 2023) who died on Tuesday 11 April aged 95. He will long be celebrated as a creative visionary, particularly for his unique, poetic and often whimsical depictions of the Australian landscape in paintings and works on paper. Winner of the Wynne (1969, 1985) Sulman (1989) and Archibald (2005) art prizes, John enjoyed a successful career over 60 years, with his work represented in numerous major collections in Australia and internationally and he continued his artistic calling to the end.

Read further about his career on our Artist Biography page

We were fortunate to hear John share his thoughts on landscape painting at the opening of Jeff Makin’s exhibition at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art back in 2001 and share these with you now:

“It’s wonderful to be in Melbourne again. I seldom get to Melbourne these days. I’ve got lots of really strong and powerful memories for Melbourne and it really comes, interestingly enough, in connection with the Australian landscape.

Whilst I had predilictions, like going through an abstract period, when I was quite young and very immature basically, but my idea of abstraction was really that at the end there was going to be another kind of figuration that would be quite different from say the influence, the very strong influence of Picasso or even Matisse at the time.

I found myself in Melbourne and I was a friend of Clifton Pugh and Fred Williams and Albert Tucker, and we had this wonderful notion which really liberated me – that we would make the Australian landscape the open studio. It sort of figured like this, it wasn’t a case of just copying what was in front of us but somehow to gather an ethos, a kind of a mystical thing that emanates from the Australian landscape. This I can point back, and it is a very very interesting question that puzzles me enormously – for all forty thousand, fifty thousand, we don’t really know how long, the concentration in Aboriginal art is always centrally based on the landscape.

It really comes down to what I think is a very interesting line from T.S. Eliot – I am in the landscape and the landscape is in me. The thrust of a remark like that comes really from that it’s beyond trees, it’s beyond rocks, it belongs perhaps say to the principle of yin and yang, as Chinese art or Japanese art would look at it.

And then the other thing that is an interesting factor, is the Australian landscape seems to reveal itself in its stronger manner when viewed slightly from the air. I think that that is really to do with the sheer vastness of it. I mean, anyone who’s flown over, when you’ve been in Europe for a period of time, and you’re lucky enough just in the very early morning and the sun is rising over Australia and you’re coming perhaps over Broome and you’re going to go perhaps over Lake Eyre if you’re lucky – it’s wonderful, wonderful.

It’s this kind of thing that I think that even though Australian’s pullulate on the edges, albeit called Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, etc., that somehow that the vastness of the continent lies like a huge unconscious collective mind.

 This kind of thing as I’m describing it presents an entirely different way, a different feeling to any other landscape that I have experienced or previously known.  I’ve flown over Siberia, only from the air of course, that’s an oxymoron if ever I heard one! It is that kind of thing, and I have noticed. I don’t really know whether it’s to do with global village philosophy or the internet or those kind of things, but there seems to be a great turning away from that great mass of the song of the earth.

Jeff is one of those people who have been doggedly passionate about this very subject for a long long period of time. In actual fact, the awkwardness reminds me something of those early Cezannes. That awkwardness that you see in Cezanne which  was scorned at in the early part of his career by Monet and Pissaro but they had a faith in him – why is it stumbling like this. It was to do with, to introduce a new ethic of structure into the French landscape. Looking at this, – where’s that lovely picture, yes it’s a lovely lovely picture and I happen to know where it is painted, and the implication and the definition of edge in it is very very strong. I have a notion that this is a turning point in Jeff’s career – a new kind of strength in an art which if one is distinct in contemporary terms is pretty god awful. It’s the lonely path and he’s done that. It’s a lot of credit that he could stand the loneliness of the long silent song.

 I do not know what I prefer: the beauty of inflection or the beauty of innuendo – the blackbird singing or the thought afterwards, Wallace Stevens. It is that form of reverberation, and I think that you can perhaps see what I am getting at. It’s not the trees, it’s not the leaves, it represents a total experience.”

John Olsen, 2001

Vale Nevin Hurst

We pay tribute to art dealer, Nevin Hurst who died on Tuesday 11 April, surrounded by family. Based in his Masterpiece gallery in Hobart, his expansive knowledge of Australian art, especially that of the colonial era, will be sorely missed. We at Lauraine Diggins Fine Art especially enjoyed a genuine friendship and fruitful working relationship, benefitting from his expertise and cheered by his jolly nature. Nevin deservedly had a reputation as story-teller, and published two books, My Masterpieces highlighting a number of significant paintings he handled as an art dealer, and his memoir, From Rabbit Traps to Rembrandts. Despite retiring a few years ago, Nevin continued his art dealing as his passionate interest, sourcing, researching and placing artworks with clients. Our thoughts are with his wife Rose and family and with Mastepiece staff past and present, especially Arzina and Zac.

Congratulations Genevieve Kemarr Loy

Congratulations to Genevieve who is a finalist in this year’s Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize. In 2023, the Prize received a record-breaking 2,042 entries. The Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize now receives 2.5 times more entries than the Archibald Prize. Opening night is Friday 12 May with the exhibition showing at Ravenswood School for Girls, Gordon NSW from 13 – 28 May 2023.

Please contact us for available paintings by Genevieve or view a selection on our website

To read further about the prize: https://www.ravenswoodartprize.com.au/artprize/home

The Sydney Fair – last day Sunday 7 May

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is participating in The Sydney Fair at Randwick, showing a selection of Australian artwork from colonial, impressionist, modern and contemporary periods including painting, sculpture, works on paper and indigenous paintings. The last day of the Fair is Sunday 7 May from 10am – 5pm and we look forward to meeting with you there.

Also included is this magnificent flag, the Royal Standard from the HMS Renown, the battlecruiser which brought the Duke and Duchess of York to Australia in 1927. The Duke of York became King George VI on his brother’s abdication and it is a fitting item to display on the day of King Charles III’s coronation. The flag is divided into four quadrants representing the Kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland with the blue anchor identifying this flag as the personal standard of the Duke of York.