In the Spotlight: Iso Rae

Isobel Rae was known as “Iso”, her nickname a somewhat relevant and familiar word to us today, as was her likely experience of isolation. At the outbreak of World War I, Iso Rae remained in Etaples, France with her mother and sister, whilst most foreigners moved away from the former peaceful fishing village, which had been home to a thriving expatriate artistic community.  

Iso and her sister Alison worked for the Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) with the British Red Cross from 1915 – 1919. As an artist, Rae depicted the scenes around her, producing around 200 drawings, mostly pastels and gouache, depicting the daily life of the military camp at Etaples.

Her lively and sensitive drawings are now recognised as important historical and social documents, beyond their artistic merit. Although not officially appointed as a war artist, Iso Rae was one of two Australian women who documented the war for many years (the other being Jessie Traill who worked in a military hospital during World War I).
 
The camp at Etaples was a place where allied troops – French, British, Canadian, Scottish, New Zealand and Australian forces, gathered before being called up to fight; a training facility; supplies depot; a detention centre and home to thousands in tent cities and ordered hospitals. Iso Rae captured camp life in her drawings of soldiers; the barracks; the hospitals; the prisoners, both German and allied; their accommodation; the horses; their training and recreation (football, cinema, theatre).

Iso Rae was a skilled draughtsperson, her marks lively and capturing a spontaneity, yet balanced with thought-out and balanced compositions. This is a particularly fine drawing depicting a group of  soldiers huddled around a brazier at night, embers blowing in the breeze and their individual uniforms bathed in an eerie glow. We have identified the figures as Scottish; the blue coat of the Hospital Blues worn by convalescents; Australian with the slouch hat and New Zelander with the ‘lemon squeezer’ hat. The peaked tents in the background provide an anchored backdrop giving a further intimacy to the group of figures.

There is an aura of quiet and calm, the relaxed poses and dangling cigarettes, but one laced with tension or perhaps boredom; the holding pattern of an unknown future the nature for many at Etaples. This is not a depiction of heroes of war, rather the gritty reality and the daily grind of behind the scenes. Rae’s use of coloured paper highlights the contrast between the army brown and the bright red and orange balanced against the blues and touch of green found in a hat band.

The drawing is accompanied by a letter of dedication from the matron at Etaples on behalf of the nurses and VAD to a Captain MacIlwaine.

Read more about this artwork.

Iso Rae biography.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Ethel Carrick Fox

Ethel Carrick Fox Au Marche
Ethel Carrick Fox 1872 – 1952 Au Marche c.1908 oil on wood panel 27 x 35 cm

“The energy and liveliness of outdoor crowds occupied Ethel Carrick Fox throughout her career, and she was particularly fascinated by markets, parks and beaches. Perfect subjects for her swiftly wrought impressions, these turn-of-the-century public spaces were being transformed by modernity.” Angela Goddard, ‘Modernity in Motion: Ethel Carrick’s crowds’ in Art, Love & Life: Ethel Carrick & E. Phillips Fox, Queensland Art Gallery, 2011, p.79
 
 
Ethel Carrick Fox has been described as ‘colourful’ and ‘daring’, both in her art and her life. An inevitable comparison with her husband Emanuel Phillips Fox certainly bears this out, as she moved beyond an impressionist sensibility to the more colourful and linear style of post-impressionism, as would have been the flavour in Paris. Her paintings of daily life; flower studies and works inspired by travels, are imbued with vibrant colour, strong composition and a concern to explore light. Her inclusion in the Salon d’Automne (created in 1903 as a move away from the academic and bringing movements such as fauvism and cubism to greater notice) from 1906, further highlights her lifelong trend of not conforming to social expectations of the time; particularly focussing on her career. 

Ethel Carrick Fox is best known for her vibrant paintings created en plein air, capturing the leisure class of Paris – the markets; parks; gardens and beaches of France. The rich dabs of pure bright colour and a focus on decorative rather than narrative elements, allow the strength of her understanding of colour and her considered compositions to shine through.
 
Carrick Fox established her successful career in Paris and London and in her regular visits to Australia, where she held exhibitions of her work and undertook painting excursions. A painting of a French flower market by Carrick Fox sold at auction in 1996 becoming the highest price achieved by an Australian woman artist; with more recent sales over one million dollars (in 2008 and 2019) overtaking this earlier precedent.
 

Read more about this artwork

Ethel Carrick Fox biography

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Charles Blackman

Charles Blackman OBE 1928 – 2018 Portrait of a Young Girl with a Bow in her Hair
charcoal on paper on composition board. 50.8 x 38.4 cm
Copyright the Estate of Charles Blackman

Charles Blackman is one of Australia’s most celebrated and significant figurative artists and was an exceptional draughtsperson. His use of pen and ink, charcoal and pencil – from quick sketches to large sized works on paper – was a constant throughout his life. His drawings bear evidence of the personal nature of his art, used to record ideas, capture daily life, and explore composition in an expressive manner. There is, of course, an immediacy to drawings, particularly black and white images with no distractions other than the dark line across a page. 

The 1960s saw Blackman complete a number of strong graphic works, many depicting his family, particularly with the arrival of his son Auguste in 1957 and daughter, Christabel, in 1959. In 1960 Blackman was awarded the Helena Rubenstein prize and selected to exhibit in the Whitechapel Gallery in London, where the Blackman family moved before returning to Australia in 1967, when this drawing was completed.

Portrait of a Young Girl with a Bow in her Hair is a direct and sweet work, full of love and the innocence of childhood, with the child directly engaging the viewer. There is a calm and gentleness to the drawing, perhaps emphasized through the use of charcoal with its richness of texture and softer edge than pen or pencil. As McCulloch noted when the work was exhibited in 1994, “Interesting to contrast is 1967’s Young Girl with a Bow with 1984’s Beatrice Drawing on Herself – both drawings of his two daughters at the same age. The latter has a saccharine sweetness absent in the earlier, more direct but equally delicious work.” (Susan McCulloch, ‘The bush characters’, Herald Sun, Melbourne, 20 April 1994, p. 7)

Blackman is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and in all state galleries, as well as numerous regional and university galleries, in addition to private and corporate collections throughout Australia and internationally. He was awarded an OBE in 1997 and honoured with a survey exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria, Schoolgirls and Angels, in 1993.

Further information:

Read more about this artwork
Charles Blackman Biography
Charles Blackman artworks in the stockroom

Congratulations Genevieve Loy – Ravenswood finalist

We are really excited that indigenous artist Genevieve Kemarr Loy has been selected as a finalist in this year’s Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, an annual prize that was launched in 2017 to advance art and opportunity for emerging and established female artists in Australia. It is the highest value professional artist prize for women in Australia.

The current global situation has meant a delay in the exhibition which is now scheduled to open 27 November, showing until 12 December at the Ravenswood School for Girls, Gordon, NSW. As their website mentions, although up to 70% of art school graduates are female, women artists make up less than half of represented artists in exhibitions and prizes around Australia, with State museums showing 34% of female artists amongst their collections. This is something many galleries are continuing to address. The Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize provides a platform to promote female visual artists, assisting in career development, providing opportunities for greater connections and inspiring current students.

Genevieve follows the tradition of her grandmother, Nancy Kunoth Petyarr and was taught to paint by her father, Cowboy Loy Pwerl, an indigenous elder in Utopia and custodian of the Bush Turkey Dreaming. On a superficial level Genevieve’s often paintings depict the tracks the Bush Turkey makes as it searches for seeds and other ‘tucker’ and makes its way to the waterhole. Genevieve’s complex and detailed paintings are characterised by a beautiful and careful handling of paint; a harmonious sense of colour; and great control of the delicate spidery marks that make their way across her canvas. Her meticulous lines can be difficult to read in a digital reproduction and are best understood and appreciated in person.

Read more about Genevieve on our site or view available works in the Stockroom. Please contact the Gallery for any further details. Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is currently open by appointment.

Genevieve Kemarr Loy Bush Turkey Tracks 2020 synthetic polymer on linen 150 x 121.5 cm

D’art documentary – film festival viewing 2020

Congratulations to all involved in making the D’art movie, a rollicking ride resulting in a vintage Goggomobil Dart car painted in artist Robert Clinch’s signature paper darts. Filmmaker Karl von Möller is deservedly recognised with the work’s inclusion in the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival for 2020, opening 30 June. Enjoy watching from the comfort of your own home, as the Festival will be online this year, with possible screenings scheduled for December.

Things are already off to a great start with US site Documentary Drive exclaiming:

“From its opening sequence, “D’art” commands your attention with its zappy swing music and montage of fine artist Robert Clinch launching paper darts into the air as collector Jeff Brown puts on a fire retardant suit and whooshes down a racetrack. 

You know their two worlds are about to meet. You don’t know how or why but you know it’s going to be a sensational adventure and you want to come along for the ride.

Directed by Karl von Möller, “D’art” raises the bar on what a film about art can be.”

For now, we hope you enjoy watching the film online; explore more about the D’art exhibition or peruse Robert’s paintings and works on paper.

The Gallery is currently open by appointment and we look forward to showing you Robert’s work.

Robert Clinch D'art exhibition
Robert Clinch D’art exhibition, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art

Congratulations to Yvonne Audette AM

219023 Yvonne Audette Cantata Giubilante

We are delighted that the recent Queen’s Birthday honours saw Yvonne Audette awarded the AM (Member of the Order of Australia) for her significant services as one of Australia’s leading abstract artists.

Audette undertook early studies in Sydney at the Julian Ashton School with Henry Gibbons and then from 1951 with John Passmore, who was to inspire her with his grater emphasis on colour and building a composition through geometric building blocks, influenced by Cezanne. She furthered her academic learning at the East Sydney Technical School with Lyndon Dadswell, as well as drawing sessions with Godfrey Miller, his abstract focus entwined with a personal mysticism. On the completion of her studies, Audette travelled and, unlike the traditional European tour, she started in America, living in New York at a time when abstract expressionism was just coming to the fore through the work of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Arshile Gorky and Mark Tobey, among others. In 1955, Audette travelled to Europe, settling in Italy where she remained for more than a decade, taking in the influence of European abstraction and developing her own unique language based on a wide variety of experiences, including encounters of contemporary art as well as diverse periods from both east and western art history through her extensive travels.

A dedicated artist, Audette actively sought to surround and expose herself to contemporary art sources, experiences and teachers in order to absorb and redefine her own unique oeuvre. Her creative output undergoes rigorous examination, with later work referring to and reenergised by earlier constructions. Her abstraction is complex, deliberate and carefully constructed, although there is an element of intuition, with the formal construct often based on capturing the essence of a sensation, season or place. Much of her drawing and painting relates to music, a natural fit being a synthesis of discipline and creativity. Yvonne continues to paint, draw and teach, inspiring students with her experience and enthusiasm.

The 2014 monograph about Audette’s work summarises her artistic development as a “peripatetic journey that began with an ambitious young student going between her distinctively different, somewhat misanthropic but always inspiring teachers. Then there was her shift from Sydney to New York, and the maturation of her work in Italy, a cultural environment beautifully encrusted by the past yet enlivened by modern panache. In mid-career she uprooted herself from all this to return to her city of birth, only to abandon it again for the high pocket of forest growth that became the private space that nurtured her later work.” (Heathcote & Bruce, 2014, p. 173)

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is proud to include Yvonne’s artwork in our current exhibition of Innovative Australian Women and looks forward to showcasing an exhibition of her work planned for later this year.

Australian ceramic artist Stephen Bowers discusses influences on his art in Ceramic Review.

Finding shards of blue and white china as a child shaped Stephen Bowers’ successful career as an internationally acclaimed ceramic artist . Read of his influences in “Potters on Pots” in the Ceramic Review.

StephenBowers Ceramic Review Issue 298 July/August 2019

Ceramic Review Issue 298 July/August 2019

Stephen’s work is also currently the feature of an installation at the Roche Foundation in Adelaide – his opulent pieces distributed throughout the Roche collection of antiques and decorative arts, providing an opportunity for dialogue, juxtaposition and surprise.

Bijou – an installation by Stephen Bowers as part of the South Australian Living Artists Festival 2019 is on show until 5 October 2019.

To view artworks by Stephen Bowers currently available please visit our website.

Andrew Sayers: Defining the Artist in The Good Weekend magazine

Bogola Head (2015) by Andrew Sayers, gouache on paper, 57cm x 76.5cm.

Good Weekend readers will have spotted John McDonald’s review of our current exhibition of gouaches by Andrew Sayers as reproduced below. The evocative landscapes, with a beautiful sense of space and place are on show until 27 April.

 

Art: Andrew Sayers

By John McDonald   March 15, 2019

Lived: Richmond, Melbourne. Age: 1957-2015. Represented by: Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne; no Sydney gallery

His thing: Gouache on paper landscapes, painted in a range of locations.

Our take: After establishing his reputation as a curator at the National Gallery of Australia, Andrew Sayers went on to become the founding director of the National Portrait Gallery and, later, director of the National Museum of Australia. Only a few close friends knew that Sayers was also a secret artist who took every opportunity to go painting “en plein air”. Sayers had long intended to give up museum work and devote himself to artistic activities, but when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he began to value every moment he could spend with a brush in his hand.

He held a first solo exhibition with Lauraine Diggins Fine Art in May 2015, and died in October that year. Andrew Sayers: Defining the Artist is his second solo show with the gallery, featuring goauche landscapes drawn from the estate. The quick-drying nature of gouache encourages a rapid response, and many of these works on paper might be described as sketches in which the artist has spontaneously jotted down his impressions. Other pictures are more considered, but it’s obvious that Sayers relished the challenge of painting at high speed, relying on eye and instinct. Like all dedicated landscape artists, he would return to the same motif again and again, investigating it from different angles under varying qualities of light.

Can I afford it? 

The works in this show range from $1500 to $5000, depending on size. The smallest, such as On the Spot Sketch, Wallaga Lake Bridge (2012), are 23cm/24cm x 32cm. The largest, such as the diptych Wooden Bridge (2010), are 57cm x 76cm and priced at $4950. Another large work is Bogola Head (pictured).

Where can I have a squiz?

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, 5 Malakoff Street, North Caulfield, Melbourne, until April 27

diggins.com.au

Vale Kathleen Petyarre

We were saddened to learn of the death of celebrated Utopia artist Kathleen Petyarre on 24 November 2018. Recognised as one of the premier contemporary painters of the central and western desert art movement, Kathleen’s work was executed in the finest detail, depicting the travels of Arnkerrth, the Mountain Devil Lizard. Since her prize winning entry at the 1996 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards, she found new representations bordering between cultural histories and abstractions and was celebrated through many exhibitions; on the international stage and through the survey exhibition Genius of Place at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2001). Her compositions often focussed on diagonal tensions; illustrating travels and sacred sites. Kathleen’s abilities as a painter were matched by her seniority in cultural knowledge and matriarchal duties of custodianship.

Read the personal tribute from Christine Nicholls, Flinders University as published in The Conversation.

“The thorny devil is unable to cover country in a straight line – she always takes a semi-circular route across her vast, arid country. This seems an apt metaphor for Kweyetemp Petyarre’s life, which hasn’t followed the trajectory that her younger self had foreseen, perforce veering off and rounding corners that she had never dreamed of in her childhood. That life, so rudely interrupted by the colonisers, was largely held together by her love of her family, and their love for her.

Petyarre also enjoyed being feted as a successful artist, and the travel that involved – arnkerrth is a great traveller.”

Christine Nicholls, Kathleen Petyarre: a brilliant artist whose life was rudely interrupted by colonisers. The Conversation, 26 November 2018

McWilliams on show at John Glover’s Patterdale Farm

“The old King Billy pine cupboard has been decorated by Tasmanian contemporary painter, Michael McWilliams, who began his career painting on old furniture from his family’s antique business. The painting above the cupboard is a watercolour of Nile Farm as it was in 1962, painted by a Launceston local.”

A recent article celebrates the heritage restoration project of John Glover’s Patterdale Farm in Tasmania, featuring a beautiful antique cupboard painted by Michael McWilliams. McWilliams has of course been a previous winner, and finalist on numerous occasions, of the John Glover art prize and has his own historic home and garden in Tasmania, so it is a real delight to see this connection with McWilliams’ artwork in Glover’s home.

Read the article here

Homestolove.com.au : Inside artist John Glover’s restored Patterdale home in Tasmania. The surrounding bushland continue to inspire more than 180 years after John Glover’s paintings made them famous. 5 December 2018