Painter-etchers. Annual exhibition.

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Painter-etchers. Annual exhibition.


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Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney) 18 April 1831 - ongoing


18 November 1930, p.7, col.8.

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18 November 1930


Exhibition review



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Annual Exhibition.

This year's exhibition by the Australian Painter-Etchers' Society, which opens to-day at the Blaxland Galleries, contains a great deal of interesting work. Most of the pictures have been supplied by local artists; but there are also some etchings by noted artists overseas, such as Fred Burridge, R.E., Malcolm Osborne, R.E., A.R.A., and Sir Frank Short, R.A., P.R.E.

The president of the society, Mr. Sydney Long, has contributed a particularly attractive group. "St. Stephen's, Camperdown." takes first place among the line etchings, on account of the strength, the poise, and the majestic serenity that pervade it. The depth of the shadow contrasts gives the beautiful old building an impressive feeling of ponderousness and perspective. Two charming aquatints are "Street Scene, Alexandria," and "The Old Boatshed, Narrabeen." Both are in semi-silhouette, and both show such a masterly gradation of tones, such a richly complex building-up of design, that their monochrome almost gives the effect of colour. In "The Old Boatshed" one finds an admirable combination of decision and romantic fancy.

"Study of Trees, Narrabeen," blends together exquisitely the poetic vagueness of wash and the crisp delicacy of chalk drawing. "The Camp, Avoca," a softground, gives a splendid effect of confidence in the execution. Its play of light and shadow, though subtle, is never laboured.

The virile sense of design manifest in Mr. Long's work shows out strongly again in the etchings ofi Malcolm Osborne. "Chenon Castle" balances, by the restraint and repose of long horizontal lines in the foreground, the swarming luxuriance of detail in the panorama afar off. "City Walls, Avignon," displays a similar harmony between upright and horizontal line, and "Wayside Tale, Dieppe." weaves its details into a pattern much more complicated, but still agreeably definite. "Nathaniel Sparks" Is a portrait full of character and vitality. Typical of Sir Frank Short's style is "An April Day in Kent," free and sweeping in every line, and conveying with the utmost fidelity the atmospheric effects produced by capricious weather.

Among the rest of the work, apart from that of Mr. Long, one of the most stimulating groups is that contributed by David Barker. He attracts attention because his work is imaginative as well as technically sound. , "Gums" is full of restrained and formal beauty In the way the foliage and shadows , of the foreground find an echo in the misty line of trees at a distance. In "The Cloud," the great mass which hangs in the sky, seeming to press down upon the figure of a lone ploughman on a meagre strip of field, conveys a vivid sense of surging motion. "Sunlight" gives rather the impression of some sort of fairy moonlight, flickering soulfully amidst the grove. These three pictures are aquatints.

Jessie Traill also shows strong individuality in her group of four etchings. There is a beautiful quality of airiness about the sky which fills most of "Sydney Bridge Going Up," and the sparse, soaring line of the cables hanging from a crane against the faintly defined clouds intensifies the impression. "The Ants' Progress" is another view of the Harbour Bridge, this time powerful and uncompromising in its bulk, as opposed to the frail figures that throng on it. "Phillip Island Frieze" is a gracious study of ti-trees.

The principal unit In Squire Morgan's group is a large portrait in chalk of the late A. H. Fullwood. The head, with its shaggy mop of hair, has been strongly treated, and the outcome is a satisfactory likeness. In "The Corn Barn," Mr. Morgan achieves strength through the concentration of design upon the central object, and "The Lakeside" reproduces appealingly the feathery quality of young gum foliage. James Crisp, though his composition often lacks definiteness and interest, sometimes catches the spectator's attention with the skilfulness he displays in matters of detail. "Porch, St. Michael's, Rose Bay," for instance, suggests well the luxuriant depth of the vines which clothe the gothic arch. In "Fishing Boats, San Francisco Bay," he weaves together with marked feeling for balance the oblique lines of the sails and masts. Bruce Robertson shows the same generalised vagueness which from time to time takes pos- session of Mr. Crisp's work; but succumbs to it more consistently. Miss Gladys Owen has imparted to her wood engravings a strong and clear-cut style eminently suited to this medium. In his etchings and pencil drawings, Douglas Pratt conveys the essential character of gum trees by means of a carefully-controlled complexity of detail, and in one particular etching, entitled "Garden Island," shows notable realisation of the emotional value of long, quiet lines.

The exhibition holds many isolated pictures, or groups of two or so, which stand out as meritorious. Such etchings as Harold Byrne's "Sun and Shadow," for example, with its bold, dramatic contrast in lighting; Martin Hardie's "Bric-a-Brac," strong and subtle in its shadows; Brian O'Reilly's "The North Pylon," bleakly but healthily vigorous; and J. C. Goodhart's "Windswept," suggesting motion so well in its streaming lines, are well worth inspection. There are also larger groups by J. Barclay Godson, Ellis St. John, Sheila McDonald, Thomas Friedensen, Will Ashton, and many others.

[Sydney Morning Herald, 18 November 1930, p.7, col.8.]