Wednesday, June 26, 2024

The past made present

It has been many years since I’ve seen these early linocuts, two of the first works I made after graduating from art school in 1984.

The work on my left is titled Jazz Age Memories (1985) in homage, if I remember correctly, to the writings, lives and times of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. (The former has long been one of my favourite authors and both, particularly the latter, would have a direct impact on several future works including this one). I still have the 1920s wind-up gramophone and art deco clock and vase, all of them purchased in London, my home for most of the 1970s. 

The basis for the title of the second linocut, Sunny Sunday Afternoon, (1985), is The Kinks song, Sunday Afternoon by Ray Davies, for no other reason than I’ve always loved it. I seem to recall that it was on constant replay in my head when I made the work. 

Both prints represent interiors of the rented house in East St Kilda where I was living at the time and were transcribed from detailed charcoal drawings made from life. 

Half a lifetime later, the linocuts are on view at Geelong Gallery, as part of The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift. Reconnecting with them has brought back a flood of memories, thus this little trip down memory lane. 

The works in the exhibition are selected from two major gifts to the gallery by collectors Rosemarie Kiss and the late Conrad O'Donohue in 2010 and 2019. Also included are prints by Australian artists Rick Amor, Grahame King, Katherine Hattam, Helen Ogilvie and John Ryrie, British artists Thomas Rowlandson and George Cruikshank, French artist Gustave Doré, Spanish artist Francisco Goya and American artists James McNeill Whistler and Philip Pearlstein, among many others.

The O’Donohue and Kiss Gift at Geelong Gallery continues to 28 July.