MARIAN ELLIS ROWAN exhibition continues through September.

Marian Ellis Rowan (1848 – 1922) was a remarkable woman, who blurred the lines between fine art and natural history illustration with artworks characterised not only by their detailed accuracy but also her own compositional charm and touches of dramatic interest, such as the inclusion of insects, adding more life, narrative interest and sense of scale.

This artwork (Blue Flowers, possibly Scaevola Basedowii) is indicative of her passion for depicting the flora of Western Australia, where she visited in 1880 and again in 1906. Scaevola derive from the hot and arid outback and is also known as the fan flower due to its petals. Ellis Rowan tended to use coloured paper for her artworks and this more centrally placed display of the spidery network of branches juxtaposed with the delicate small blue flowers, suggests it is from earlier in her career, coinciding with her visits to WA.

This celebrated and prolific artist with her reputation for painting wildflowers is represented in many public collections including significant holdings at:

Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
National Herbarium, Melbourne
National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery of Victoria
National Library of Australia
National Trust of Australia
Queensland Museum
Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art
Royal Botanic Gardens, Adelaide

With thanks to the staff at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne for expert advice regarding identification.

Read further here

(Blue Flowers, possibly Scaevola Basedowii)
gouache on paper, 53 x 36 cm

MARIAN ELLIS ROWAN August – September 2021

Exhibition Online

Marian Ellis Rowan (1848 – 1922) was a remarkable woman who travelled around the world to capture exotic flora in her elegant paintings. First inspired by the gardens of her youth at Mount Macedon, Victoria and family connections to government botanist Ferdinand von Mueller, she became a celebrated artist known for depicting wildflowers and birdlife, recording numerous botanical species throughout remote Australia; New Zealand; the United Kingdom; the United States of America and Papua New Guinea.

This exhibition is a small representation of Rowan’s extensive work and is indicative of her broad travels and includes a fully illustrated flipbook catalogue with accompanying essay.

Eclectus Parrot (Male),
watercolour & gouache on paper, 22.5cm diam.

This celebrated and prolific artist with her reputation for painting wildflowers is represented in many public collections including significant holdings at the National Library of Australia and the Queensland Museum; as well as the National Gallery of Australia; the National Gallery of Victoria; the Art Gallery of New South Wales; Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art; the Art Gallery of Western Australia; the Royal Botanic Gardens, Adelaide; the National Herbarium, Melbourne; the National Trust of Australia; the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. 

With thanks to the staff at the National Herbarium, Melbourne for their expert advice regarding identification of selected artworks.

The Sheltered Nest (detail)
watercolour and gouache on paper, 52.5 x 27 cm

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In The Spotlight…Robert Dickerson

ROBERT DICKERSON 1924 – 2015Landscape with Figures 1946
enamel paint on composition board, 76 x 91 cm, signed lower right: Dickerson 11/10/46

Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney
Lauraine Diggins Gallery, Melbourne
David Bremer, Melbourne
Deutscher Fine Art, Carlton
John and Marita McIntosh, Melbourne
The Collection of John and Marita McIntosh, Mossgreen, Melbourne, 15 October 2013, lot 11 as Landscape with Figures
Private collection, Melbourne

Welcome to IN THE SPOTLIGHT, where we continue to focus on artworks from our stockroom and provide some context around the work and its artist.

Robert Dickerson was self-taught as an artist, visiting the National Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Australian Museum as a boy, closely examining different artists’ techniques. At around 14 years of age, he worked as a factory worker and trained as a boxer, becoming a professional fighter at 15. He enlisted, aged 18, and served in the Royal Australian Air Force. Whilst waiting to be demobilized at the end of the Second World War, he drew and painted East Indian children in Morotai (a Dutch Island in the East Indies, now Malaysia). On Dickerson’s return to Australia, he began to paint, working with a limited palette and often using enamel on cardboard. Landscape with Figures was painted soon after Dickerson’s return, undertaken as an exercise in painting, and a continuation of his exploration of figures while utilising enamel. He held is first exhibition at Blaxland Gallery, Sydney in 1949. His reputation as an artist was established during the 1950s with the support of John Reed and of Rudy Komon, with whom he exhibited from 1959. He participated in the Antipodean exhibition in Melbourne in August 1959, the only Sydney artist. His figurative work portrays individuals in both urban and rural settings with an overriding emotional mood and psychological insight, all conveyed in Dickerson’s unique and recognisable visual language, one he continued with throughout his artistic practice, which lasted right up until his death, aged 91.
“Waiting many months in the islands to be demobbed after the war was over could have been a time of great tedium. But the Services library had given Bob a novel by Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, and he realized that Gauguin chose a South Sea Island for a very good reason: there was no shortage of models. Bob began to draw and paint the children of Morotai. ‘They used to pose for me and sit playing while I drew them.’ In an interview with The Australian in 1969 he told Laurie Thomas he was moved to paint these East Indian children. ‘They used to come and clean up the tent for us, and climb up to get coconuts. They were so undernourished, thin and with that intensity that children have. I felt a great sympathy for these young kids – to see the way their parents were content with this primitive punched-around living. The children were anxious to evolve but nobody was helping them. They even taught us to speak Indonesian – pidgin Malay – and we taught them to speak English. That feeling about kids persisted in my work because I felt strongly about the children of the whole bloody world as a matter of fact, not the fat complacent little creeps, but the hungry ones.’ Bob thinks most of these paintings were lost in the jungle or given away. ‘I didn’t bring back any of these drawings or paintings, because it’s not easy to carry artworks in a kitbag.’ 

Jenny Dickerson, 
Robert Dickerson: Against the Tide, Pandanus Press, 1994, pp32-33

Robert Dickerson is widely recognised in innumerable private, corporate and major Australian public institutional collections including:

National Gallery of Australia
National Gallery of Victoria
Art Gallery of NSW
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art
Art Gallery WA
Tasmanian Museum & Art Gallery
Art Gallery Ballarat
Newcastle Art Gallery
Australian National University
Holmes à Court Collection 

Further information:
Robert Dickerson – Landscape with Figures
Read other articles – In The Spotlight


As RECONCILIATION WEEK draws to a close I enjoyed watching the AFL match last night for the Dreamtime Round. It’s great to see indigenous recognition and reconciliation in all forms and in many industries. 

This years theme is MORE THAN A WORD, RECONCILIATION TAKES ACTION, urging the reconciliation movement towards braver and more impactful action.

At Lauraine Diggins Fine Art we have been welcomed into the artistic community at Utopia. As strong supporters of the artists from this beautiful area, Lauraine and Gallery staff have travelled often to spend time working with Emily Kam Kngwarray, the Ngal sisters (Kathleen, Poly and Angelina – and extended family) from Camel Camp; Cowboy Loy Pwerl, Elizabeth Kunoth Kngwarray and Genevieve Kemarr Loy from Iylenty (Mosquito Bore); and with the Morton sisters from Rocket Range. We have benefited from the generosity of the community and learnt about and participated in cultural activities of the community.

The Gallery actively promotes the artists of Utopia, who in connection to their land share their cultural knowledge and stories with the wider world through their art. 

Gaining appreciation for and recognizing the importance of Indigenous art promotes Indigenous people and their culture and is part of the process of building stronger relationships as a Nation.

In her landmark 1989 Indigenous catalogue Twentieth Century Aboriginal Art: A Myriad of Dreaming Lauraine introduced artists of the calibre of Rover Thomas and Lin Onus. The Gallery further brought artists to international attention through art fairs in Paris and Moscow; participated in collaborative exhibitions both in Australia and worldwide, in particular taking Emily to exhibit in Hong Kong and China at the legendary China Club, Hong Kong in the early 1990s; and showcased Emily’s monumental Earths Creation in a stunning 1998 exhibition Earth’s Creation: The Paintings of Emily Kame Kngwarreye; the Gallery further brought gallery represented indigenous artists and their art to recognition at art prizes in which Angelina, Kathleen and Elizabeth have been finalists in the Wynne Art Prize; Cowboy and Genevieve in the Waterhouse Natural Science Art Prize; Elizabeth and Genevieve in the Churchie Emerging Art Prize; Angelina, Cowboy, Elizabeth and Genevieve in the Blake Art Prize; Elizabeth and Genevieve in the The Alice Prize; Genevieve in the Fleurieu, among others. Lauraine was instrumental in the international fashion house Hermès commissioning Gloria Petyarr to create a design for their famous scarves.

The Ravenswood Australian Women’s Art Prize, is 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 and Genevieve succeeded in being a finalist in 2020.
As stated on their website, although up to 70% of art school graduates are female, less than half of represented artists in exhibitions and prizes around Australia are female, 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.

Welcome to Country by Aunty Joy Murphy AO
to Genevieve Kemarr Loy and Lorraine Kabbindi White
at the Next Generation exhibition 2017

Lauraine Diggins Fine Art continues to commit support by profiling Indigenous artists and their art, support accountability towards Indigenous people and the ethical sale of art. We further achieve this as members of the Aboriginal Art Association of Australia.
If you would like to take a step towards reconciliation, visit an Indigenous art exhibition, or have a look at these suggestions by Reconciliation Australia

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.


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.

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Emily Kam Kngwarraye

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.

Read more about Emily Kngwarray

See available artworks by Emily Kngwarray

Read more about this painting


Hans Heysen Morning Break 1922
Hans Heysen Morning Break 1922

“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.

Read more about Hans Heysen and Morning Break.

Bessie Davidson – on show

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] 

Ruth Lovell
Gallery Manger

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

Further information:
Bessie Davidson Biography
Bessie Davidson artworks in the stockroom

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.