A Closer Look At… John Dent etchings

Although our exhibition centres on John Dent’s paintings, we are excited to be able to show and offer a selection of his etchings, the limited holdings of the artist’s own studio. Dent’s time in Paris allowed him to build on his printmaking skills and techniques at the premier printmaking studio Lacourière Frélaut.

Dent’s etchings are often on a grand scale with intricate and experimental use of line and texture, from a simple lightly scratched line to a rich use of stippling and patterning.

Some of the smaller sized monochrome works have a lovely immediacy, an artist capturing a mood and atmosphere of place.

Dent’s prints reveal his skilled technique, bold use of colour, interest in patterning and the unusual viewpoint of the assembled everyday objects encountered in an interior, all presented with a strong decorative element.

To read further and take A Closer Look At… John Dent’s etchingsplease click here.

John Dent: Recent Paintings is now showing throughout July 2024. To preview a selection of works and download the e-catalogue or watch a video of the opening please see our website www.diggins.com.au

Enjoy a long weekend…

For those around Australia with a public holiday on 10 June, we hope you enjoy a long weekend. We look forward to welcoming you to the Gallery from Tuesday 11 to view our current exhibition of paintings by John Dent, showing until the end of June.

With his wide variety of interests, significant mentors and travel experiences, especially time spent in France, Dent has built a successful art career over the past 50 years and is always looking and always learning. Some of his paintings bear a clearer influence of a particular artist or movement, perhaps Baldessin here or Bonnard there, but each work is distinctly Dent.

Preview artworks on our website

Download the e-catalogue

Watch the video of the exhibition opening with remarks by Peter Perry OAM, former Director of the Castlemaine Art Gallery and currently working on a publication of John Dent’s art.

JOHN DENT Table Setting
JOHN DENT Table Setting

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

Three Exhibitions at LDFA

Robert Clinch: Life on Earth

Murray Griffin: Earth and Beyond

Horace Trenerry: Painting the Earth

Three concurrent solo shows by artists we believe deserve greater recognition for their contribution to the Australian Art story. Contemporary Melbourne artist Robert Clinch and his urban capriccios which are based on real places, allowing a sense of recognition and familiarity to the viewer. Robert adapts the elements to suit the message he seeks to present, making comment on universal aspects of humanity and life on earth. Murray Griffin (1903 – 1992) is admired for his lithographs of birds, but less well known for his paintings of landscapes and the spiritual influence on his work, culminating in The Journey series. Horace Trenerry (1899 – 1958) has been described as the Monet of South Australia. Little known outside his home state, his focus on the Australian landscape captures observed details, light and atmosphere.

Preview the artworks on our website and download the e-catalogues linked below to learn more about each of these underrated artists.

Robert ClinchPreview on our website or click on catalogue image to download
Murray GriffinPreview on our website or click on catalogue image to download
Horace TrenerryPreview on our website or click on catalogue image to download.

Helen S. Tiernan : Storied Country

Helen S. Tiernan’s most recent paintings included in our current exhibition, Storied Country, continue her themes of the Australian landscape as a repository for memory and stories associated with indigenous culture, colonial encounters and life today, expressed through a new visual device – the quirky images of square stud bulls and corpulent cows. Whilst a reminder of the ubiquitous cattle in her native Gippsland, they also reference colonial paintings (as well as William Dobell and John Kelly) and point to exploitative farming and the destruction of local Indigenous culture, fauna and lands. In The Strangers, the cows are provisionally taped onto the canvas, highlighting their presence as outsiders in the landscape, contrasted against the majestic river red gum, asserting a proud indigenous presence and also referencing the landscapes of the Australian Impressionists of the Heidelberg School.

Helen Tiernan The Strangers 2022
Helen Tiernan The Strangers 2022

View the paintings at our Gallery until 18 November 2022 and download the catalogue and watch the video of the opening on our website – click here to view

Helen S. Tiernan: Storied Country Exhibition Opening Sat 22 Oct

Born in Gippsland, Helen S. Tiernan draws on her Irish and Aboriginal heritage to explore issues of identity; Black/White contact history; connection to and management of country; environmental concerns; and the experience of women. As well as drawing on her own experiences, she looks to art history and literary, historical and cultural references. Her landscapes build on her understanding of the land as a cultured space of ancient knowledge and deep memory; storied with songlines. By redirecting and transforming history through her own creative process Helen challenges us to revisit and reinterpret it.

“A central idea in my work is the importance of the Australian landscape as a repository or memory bank that is rich with Indigenous knowledge and stories associated with traditional life, colonial encounters and life today. The work is complex, layered and deliberately playful. The paintings are encoded with Indigenous symbols and patterns that express meanings that go deep into the unconscious, pointing to understandings related to the sentience, sacredness and power of the land which words can’t always capture. It is a way of allowing the viewer to engage more imaginatively with the painting and bring their own experiences into their reading of the works.”

Exhibition showing 22 October – 18 November 2022 : Preview the exhibition online

Exhibition to be opened Saturday 22 October at 2pm by Steve Dimopoulos MP, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events; Minister for Creative Industries. Please RSVP to ausart@diggins.com.au

Download the catalogue – colour illustrated with essay by Dr Marie Geissler, Visiting Associate Researcher, University of Wollongong; Associate Researcher, National Museum of Australia, Canberra and author of Dreaming the Land, 2022. Dr Geissler will also speak at the exhibition opening.

Read further about the artist

TIERNAN, As above so Below with Songlines, 222054, 150x90cm
TIERNAN, As above so Below with Songlines, 222054, 150x90cm

Celebrating International Women’s Day

It is fortuitous timing that our exhibition of paintings and works on paper by Constance Stokes coincides with International Women’s Day, celebrated on 8 March. Constance Stokes’ life represents the myriad issues facing female artists, particularly pursuing an active career as a professional artist whilst also supporting a family and fitting with societal expectations of the time. Constance Parkins was a talented and dedicated student who travelled overseas to further her artistic studies. Following classes at the Gallery School at the National Gallery of Victoria under Bernard Hall, she was awarded the Travelling Scholarship in 1929 which enabled her to continue her studies at the Royal Academy in London and in Paris in the summer of 1931 with Andre Lhote who was to have a profound influence on her. Her success as an artist was recognised with numerous exhibitions and her inclusion in the Twelve Australian Artists exhibition at Burlington Galleries, London in 1953 and at the 1953 Venice Biennale. Constance married Eric Stokes in 1933 and between 1937 and 1942 they had three children. Constance Stokes is on record as describing the difficulties of combining her career and motherhood, even with a supportive husband, admitting that each impacted the other.

Eric’s early death in 1962 forced a greater impetus to maintain her career and Stokes continued with successful exhibitions. Her paintings of women are particularly prized, their warmth and intimacy matched with bold use of colour. Her works on paper, mostly depicting women, highlight her drawing skill and lyrical line.

As Dr Juliette Peers noted in the catalogue essay for our exhibition:

“For Stokes, as recounted in interviews, the driving factors of her art were her imagination, her sense of design, and, increasingly at the end of her career, revisiting and reinterpreting her own previous works and studies. “Actually, most of my paintings are from imagination or memory.“[i] Women stand at the centre of her imagery, as she said “the woman takes first place”.[ii] Many of the works in this present collection reflect her preference for portraying women. Her female studies became particularly important during the later phase of her career, when she, in effect, rebuilt her practice and her confidence after the early death of her husband in 1962. At this date Stokes faced a very different and not always congenial artistic, social and political world to the one in which she first found fame. Her response to these changing times and practices was to heighten her colour and simplify her compositions. “ Juliette Peers, Constance Stokes 1906 – 1991, catalogue essay for Lauraine Diggins Fine Art exhibition, 2021

It is fitting on International Women’s Day that we recognise the talents of Constance Stokes, as a woman, as well as celebrate her depictions of women.

Constance Stokes Woman in Patterned Robe
Constance Stokes Woman in Patterned Robe

Learn more about Constance Stokes on our exhibition page where you can enjoy viewing the artworks, accessing the catalogue with essay by Dr Juliette Peers and listen to Dr Gerard Vaughan discussing the exhibition and Constance Stokes oeuvre. The exhibition is showing until 31 March 2022.

A Closer Look At… John Dent large-scale paintings

This is the final week to view our current exhibition John Dent: Between Two Countries and we invite you to take A Closer Look At… John Dent’s larger paintings in the exhibition.

The subject matter of the larger paintings crosses a broad range: landscapes; interiors; figures; still lifes – all themes with a long tradition in the history of art. Dent takes inspiration from his own experiences, from the mundane of a Hills Hoist in the backyard of an inner city Melbourne suburb; to the more exotic, a studio in Mallorca; to the macabre, the soft colour palette of the seminal triptych, Natura Morta- Marta belies the rather uncompromising subject. Dent is able to raise elements from their everyday existence to the distinction of art, particularly highlighted in these paintings where familiar objects are lifted through their presentation on a grand scale. However the real subject matter is often the very act of painting itself, the placement of elements, of form and colour on the canvas. 

To tak A Closer Look At… John Dent’s larger-scale paintings, please click here.

Exhibition showing until Friday 25 June. Visit our website to view images, watch a video of the opening, download the catalogue and read the Closer Look At… essay.

A Closer Look At… John Dent Still Life Paintings

In our series of A Closer Look At… essays, we examine an aspect of current exhibited artworks. In the first of these for John Dent: Between Two Countries, we further consider the intriguing still life paintings where a range of commonplace objects are carefully placed in juxtaposition to each other and the space between them, to hint at a narrative beyond the ordinary.

These are elegant paintings, where every object has been deliberately considered and heightened by the use of texture and skilful use of colour, which is both rich yet subtle. In his opening remarks, LDFA Director Michael Blanche referred to Dent’s still paintings as “semi-abstracted displaced objects”, seeing links to artists including Giorgio Morandi; Lucio Fontana; Pierre Bonnard; Edouard Vuillard and to one of John’s key mentors, George Baldessin.

Take A Closer Look At… John Dent Still Life Paintings here, particularly, whilst the Gallery is closed due to current Victorian Covid restrictions. Images can also be viewed online and please contact us via email with any queries ausart@diggins.com.au. The exhibition has been extended to 25th June and we hope to welcome you soon (at this stage from 11 June).

JOHN DENT : Exhibition Opening at LDFA Sat 15 May 2021 at 2pm

John Dent: Between Two Countries featuring 50 paintings from the earlier years of his ongoing career, painted in both Australia and France. A rare opportunity to view the collection together on a scale not seen since Dent’s retrospective at Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1994. Subjects range from intriguing and elegant still lifes; atmospheric interiors and figurative works; and streetscapes of Paris, with its everyday realities and unexpected surprises. A range of subjects and scales but unmistakably Dent’s lyrical and complex compositions and multifaceted muted colour palette.

The exhibition is showing until 11 June and a colour illustrated catalogue can be downloaded from our website.