Join us in the exhibitions final week, where you have a rare opportunity to view and purchase a selection of artworks from Churcher’s impressive first decade of his career, which examines the beginning and following the growth and establishment of his career as an artist. Churcher’s artistic concern from the outset was the human figure and the human condition. Churcher’s paintings are a faithful representation of their subject. There is an element of truth-seeking and honesty. A rawness in using people he simply met in the street rather than professional models strengthened this element and appealed to an artist schooled in the European masters in the tradition of Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Velazquez and Van Gogh who also elevated ordinary people and objects as art.
New works in our stockroom
ZHOU XIAOPING 1960 –
ink, oil and synthetic polymer on rice paper laid on canvas
94.5 x 154 cm
One of the most intriguing contemporary artists to explore the complex yet rich creative and conceptual possibilities of cross-cultural collaboration is the Chinese Australian artist, Zhou Xiaoping.Having lived in Aboriginal communities over a sustained period of time and forged important working relationships with various senior artists, Zhou has developed an original art practice that brings together elements from Chinese, Western and Australian Aboriginal cultural traditions.
Learn more about Xiaoping here: https://www.diggins.com.au/exhibition/xiaoping-zhou/
View Xiaoping’s artworks available in our stockroom: https://www.diggins.com.au/artwork/?artistid=9187
John Glover achieved great success as a painter in London, both as a watercolourist and oil painter, prior to emigrating to Australia in 1830 where his naturalistic depictions of the Australian light and landscape continue to be revered. His landscapes tend towards the romantic and classical, and it is his close observation of nature, based on his wide travels, which elevates his work beyond the picturesque.
Glover arguably became the most important landscape artist outside Europe, maintaining his reputation in England and forging a new following and great success in Australia. Glover’s influence continues to this day, with the John Glover Art Prize one of Australia’s most significant awards for landscape painting.
~ read further here
In the late 1970s, Emily took up batik, along with other artists from Utopia, as a means of expressing cultural stories and designs and began painting on canvas in 1988-89. Her earlier work developed a distinctive skeletal linear formation overlaid with dots to form highly abstracted works.
Women’s Dreaming (1993) features these meandering lines to depict the bush potato dreaming (yam or Anatye) with the arcs representative of awelye, ceremonial body design, painted onto women’s breasts and chest.
The legacy of Emily’s prolific and highly successful artistic career has been significant both among Aboriginal artists and the wider community. She is widely regarded as one of the most notable Australian artists of recent times. Her paintings are held in all major museums and galleries in Australia and in significant contemporary collections internationally.
“There is something immensely exhilarating when tall white gums tower into the blue heavens – the subtle quality of the edges where they meet the sky – how mysterious.”
Carrol, A., North, I., and Treganza, J., Hans Heysen Centenary Retrospective 1877 – 1977, Art Gallery Board of South Australia, 1977, p.12
This striking watercolour highlights the majesty of the Australian gum tree rising even beyond the picture plane and is typical of Heysen’s celebrated landscapes, many painted around his home in Hahndorf where his conservation efforts continue to be enjoyed at The Cedars today. Heysen had a passion for depicting such ancient trees, especially with a glow filtering through the branches, providing a contrast between light and shadow. The resting figure and quiet horses lend a calm atmosphere and give perspective to the heroic trees.
BESSIE ELLEN DAVIDSON 1879 – 1965
Still Life with Bowl of Fruit
oil on cardboard
46 x 39.6 cm
The growing global interest in women artists is reflected in the increasing number of exhibitions highlighting their work. A number of artworks from our current exhibition of Innovative Australian Women are currently on loan to other exhibitions:
Joy Hester Remember Me at Heide Museum of Modern Art is showing until 4 October 2020 (check their website for updated viewing times). Further details and video tour of the exhibition with Curator Kendrah Morgan can be viewed here.
Bessie Davidson & Sally Smart – Two artists and the Parisian avant-garde at Bendigo Art Gallery which is showing until 26 July 2020. Australian artist Bessie Davidson forged a successful artistic career in France and is the great great aunt of contemporary visual artist Sally Smart who was profoundly influenced by Davidson, and who has created a new work in response to and to comment upon Davidson’s work and life.
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art is pleased to have assisted Bendigo Art Gallery with client loans of five Davidson artworks for this important and revealing exhibition, three of which are subsequently included in our current exhibition Innovative Australian Women. Bendigo Art Gallery has provided a walkthrough video of their exhibition which can be viewed here. The exhibition is also accompanied by an extensive catalogue which can be viewed here.
The Innovative Australian Women exhibition has been extended indefinitely due to Melbourne’s stage 3 health directions currently in place by the Victorian Government, allowing the Davidson works to physically re-join our Innovative Australian Women exhibition and awaiting a time for visitors once stage 3 directives in Melbourne are eased.
Bessie Davidson is a name being heard more now in Australia, the country of her birth, although her reputation in her adopted home of France has always been greater. In fact, Davidson was appointed Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur for Art and Humanity by the French Government in 1931, the highest accolade the French government can bestow.
The exhibition at Bendigo brings together over 50 of Davidson’s still lifes, interiors, portraits and landscapes, characterised by a sense of intimacy and a beautiful use of light and tone, an increasingly daring use of colour and vigorous brushstrokes.
“A courageous and pioneering artist, Bessie Davidson left the comfort of her home and family in Adelaide to pursue an artistic career in Paris, making a name for herself as a painter of modern impressionist works, in the French style.”
Her legacy, besides her paintings of light-filled interiors, women at leisure and still lifes, is her impact as a female artist – her success in her lifetime and continued celebration of her career; the growing recognition of her leadership in supporting women artists, including through formal organisations, and the path she left for others to follow and her contribution to Australian art, perhaps only now being acknowledged.[i]
Adelaide-born and with a Scottish background, Davidson studied art under Rose McPherson (later Margaret Preston) and exhibited with the South Australian Society of Arts in 1901-03. She travelled to Europe with Preston in 1904 studying briefly in Munich, before moving to Paris where she attended the Académie de la Grande Chaumière. She exhibited at the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français and at the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris at the height of fauvism in 1905. She was a founding member of the Salon des Tuileries.
She returned to Adelaide towards the end of 1906 and held a joint exhibition with Preston in March 1907. The National Gallery of South Australia purchased Davidson’s Portrait of Miss G.R. (ceramicist, Gladys Reynell) in 1908. Davidson returned to Paris in 1910, establishing a studio in Montparnesse, with only brief visits home in 1914 and 1950. At the outbreak of the First World War, Davidson hastened back to Paris and volunteered for the French Red Cross working as a nurse. She was forced to flee Paris during the Second World War, living in Normady, but able to return to her studio in 1945, where she remained until her death, aged 85.
Davidson fits within the numerous international artists who made Paris their home, including a growing group of Australians, particularly women, such as Iso Rae; Edith Fry; Hilda Rix Nicholas; Marie Tuck; Alice Muskett; Bessie Gibson; Anne Alison Greene; Kathleen O’Connor; Dorrit Black; Grace Crowley; Anne Dangar.
As Tansy Curtin, curator of the Bendigo exhibition, notes, maintaining her artistic career in Paris and as a female artist depicting foreign landscapes, her friends and their domestic interiors, and still life subjects has meant Davidson has been sidelined from the Australian artistic narrative with its particular focus on the idiom of the Australian landscape.
Her continuing interest in light, atmosphere and colour and confident brushstrokes are evident in the paintings included in our Innovative Australian Women exhibition:
Still Life with Pears (the pears especially reminiscent of Cézanne) is a beautiful example of her thought-out composition, expressive brushstrokes, and harmonious use of colour. Like all still life subjects, stripped of any narrative, it is a painting about painting. “Visually rich in its handling of colour, texture, volume, composition and paint itself, its appeal to the senses extends to the scent of pears. … Still Life with Pears finds curve repeating curve, as all moves towards a painterly abstraction.” [ii]
Still Life with Bowl of Fruit makes clever use of horizontal and vertical lines to focus the viewer’s eye and the unusual perspective … “where the viewer is made to feel as though they are seated at the table, across from their companion and about to drink tea and eat fruit.” [iii]
Laundry Boat on the River Seine c.1914 Many artists flocked to the vibrant cosmopolitan Paris in the early twentieth century, including a number of Australian women artists attracted by the proximity to international modernism, the more accepted status of women artists and the perceived social freedoms. “Davidson saw herself as belonging to the ‘modern French impressionist school’, combining the colour and light of impressionism with the more robust painting techniques of post-impressionism, and to a degree cubism, to illustrate everyday life in Paris” – capturing the day-to-day of her surrounds, such as the Laundry Boat on the Seine. [iv]
Public Collections include:
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Fonds municipal d’art contemporain, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Beaune, Beaune
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rouen, Rouen
Musée d’Art et d’Industrie Andre Dillgent, Roubaix
City of Edinburgh Council, Scotland City of Fife Council, Scotland
Bessie Davidson, Osborne Art Gallery, Adelaide, 1967
Bessie Davidson: Une Australienne en France, 1880- 1965, Australian Embassy, Paris, 1999
Australian Impressionists in France, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2013
Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020
Penelope Little, A Studio in Montparnasse: Bessie Davidson: An Australian Artist in Paris, Craftsman House, Melbourne, 2003
Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020
[i] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 14
[ii] Thomas, D. Collectors’ Exhibition 2017, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Melbourne, p. 14
[iii] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 13
[iv] Curtin, T. Bessie Davidson An Australian Impressionist in Paris, Bendigo Art Gallery, 2020, p. 8
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.
MICHAEL McWILLIAMS 1956 –
Knee Deep in the Willows 2003
synthetic polymer on composition board
120 x 240 cm
Knee Deep in the Willows depicts a Friesian cow stranded in the mud and includes a frustrated farmer, hands on hips, on the other side of the river, contemplating the next move. The scene is inspired by the artist’s wanderings amongst the willows near his home in northern Tasmania, either fishing or with his dogs, where he is often confronted with a Friesian cow strayed from nearby grazing paddocks. Humans are rare in McWilliams’ painting. However, recent works introduce a human dialogue into his usual animal inhabited world.
A further treasure in this painting is a Thylacine or Tasmanian Tiger hidden in the shadows, a subtle conservationist statement from the artist who is passionate about their ongoing existence despite human intervention in their environment.
McWilliams’ craft has evolved from smaller scale works, particularly painted wooden panels or painting on furniture, to larger scale canvases where the landscape is the focus. Much of McWilliams’ knowledge of antiques was acquired during his teenage years when he travelled with his father on buying trips around Tasmania for their antique shop in Longford. McWilliams explains “I started painting on furniture simply because I liked the old timber, and it was at hand. I enjoy painting things that are close to me: water, trees and mountains, and familiar local animals.”
In many of his works, it’s a fleeting moment in nature that he captures and preserves. The viewer curious to see what is inside is presented with a delightful surprise. The element of hidden surprise adds an extra dimension to McWilliams’ painting. Look carefully at the artworks as those who undertake the treasure hunt will be rewarded with a glimpse of a thylacine, a favoured motif of the artist. Like many, he is incredulous that human intervention could cause the extinction of this species and hopes that perhaps there are still a few Tasmanian Tigers out there, hiding in the shadows as they are in his paintings. McWilliams has been interested in the Thylacine since he was a child, McWilliams explains “I’ve drawn it since I was small, and have always tried to imagine what it would be like to see one and to consider different relationships we could have, like having one for a pet. I try to imagine them into my life.”
The added element of fun and humour is a familiar trait in Michael’s work although it does not detract from his environmental message which prompts the viewer to question the relationship between humans and animals, whether wild or domestic; the relationship between native and introduced species; and the relationship between humans and the environment and the impact this has made for native species in particular.
2016 Winner, Children’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape
2015 Winner, People’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania
2014 Winner, People’s Choice, Hanger’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape
2013 Winner, Children’s Choice, John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania
2012 Winner, People’s Choice, Bay of Fires Art Prize, St Helens, Tasmania
2011 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, finalist
2010 Wynne Prize for Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Finalist
2010 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, finalist
2008 Wynne Prize for Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Finalist
2008 The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, The South Australian Museum, Winner
2008 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Hon. Mention
2008 Fleurieu Biennale Art Prize, South Australia
2007 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania
2006 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Hon. Mention
2005 The Waterhouse Natural History Art Prize, The South Australian Museum, Winner
2004 John Glover Art Prize for Tasmanian Landscape, Tasmania, Winner
1996 Tasmanian Art Award, Eskleigh, Perth, Tasmania, Winner
1994 Trust Bank Open Art Award, Launceston, Tasmania, Winner
Queensland Art Gallery Danish Royal Family
Tasmania Museum and Art Gallery Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
Natural Trust of Australia (Tasmania) Parliament House, Canberra
Devonport City Art Gallery The Glover Society
Museum of South Australia Lauraine Diggins, Melbourne
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Tasmania
Michael McWilliams, Knee Deep in the Willows
Michael McWilliams Biography
Michael McWilliams artworks in the stockroom
JAMES GLEESON 1915 – 2008
After the Transit 1989
oil on canvas
172 x 230 cm
James Gleeson was born in Sydney in 1915 and brought up by his Aunt and Mother. He was three when his father died. Gleeson trained at East Sydney Technical College and then spent time teaching both at primary level and lecturing at Sydney Teachers College. From 1949 to 1972 he was art critic for the Sun and from 1962 for the Sun Herald. Throughout his life Gleeson travelled moderately, visiting Europe, the States, South America, South Pacific and Japan. He spent most of his life in Sydney.
Influenced particularly by artists such as Salvador Dali, Hieronymous Bosch and van Gogh, Gleeson succeeded in becoming Australia’s first and foremost surrealist artist. He invites the unconscious to appear seeking fuller self knowledge. Like many of the Surrealists, Gleeson kept paper and pen beside his bed to record his dreams and used various painting techniques including frottage, decalcomania and impasto.
By 1980s the artist had pushed the extreme of the figure so far that to him it had almost become unrecognizable, hence his work became more abstract as he no longer felt the need to use form at all. This resulted in his later works being mainly oil on large canvasses and is particularly pleasing, showing how Gleeson’s struggle within eventually matured to a more calm, balanced depiction.
James Gleeson’s artworks have been included in the following public and private collections: Lapsed Shadows Recycled to a Capable Coast of 1988 in the Art Gallery of New South Wales; The Opening Gate of 1989 in the Colin and Liz Laverty Collection; The Dance of 1989 in the James Fairfax Collection; The Darkening Stage of 1991 in the National Gallery of Victoria and The Secret Heart of the Headland of 1991 in the National Gallery of Australia.
James Gleeson, After The Transit
James Gleeson Biography
James Gleeson artworks in the stockroom