2012 Acquisitions

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Eveline Syme

born 1888 Surrey, England
died 1961 Melbourne, Australia

Eveline Syme made her first colour linocut in 1927, after being introduced to the technique by Ethel Spowers. She followed Spowers to London and together they received tuition at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in 1928-1929 under Claude Flight (the leading exponent of the modernist linocut). Syme then headed to Paris and studied under André Lhôte, before returning to Australia in 1930. With female contemporaries Dorrit Black and Ethel Spowers, Syme became passionate about promoting the modernist colour linocut in Australia.


Although experimenting in and producing important images that radiated Modernist ideas of rhythmic design and movement taught by Flight, Syme’s more blocky compositions such as Sydney tram line were largely the result of lessons learnt under Lhôte. Her admiration of the Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcut, with the high viewpoint and flattened picture plane, also presents clearly in this work. Although a rare subject matter for Syme, her strongly characterised design of Sydney with its tram lines, rooftops and fuming factory chimneys shows an empathy for the city’s contemporary life.

Eveline Syme Sydney tram line 1936

Eveline Syme Sydney tram line 1936. Colour linocut, 30.5 x 22.9 cm (sheet). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Sir Claude Hotchin Art Foundation, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012. © Eveline Syme 1936.

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Rusty (Djirri) Peters

born c1936 Springvale Station, southwest of Warmun, Western Australia
works Warmun, Western Australia
Language: Gija


Rusty Peters is a senior Gija man of Juwurru skin. He grew up on Springvale Station, southwest of Warmun, where he learnt traditional law and worked as a stockman. In the mid-1980s, Peters moved to Warmun with other senior Gija artists where he helped to form the art school. In 1989 he moved to Kununurra and while there undertook print making and painting classes. In 1997 Peters based his practice at Jirrawun Aboriginal Arts Group, and has since engaged with the Warmun Art Centre. This continual movement through his country is key to Peters’ development as an artist and has honed his ability to map and narrate story and Country.


This work is an excellent example of the style of first generation Warmun artists, which includes Rover Thomas, Hector Jandany and Queenie McKenzie. Peters paints Ngarrangkarni [Dreaming] stories in an inimitably direct style. The softer grey and green tones contrast markedly with the hard edges that delineate the work’s design, and in an unusual move, the artist has painted two realistic trees on the horizon line. This allows the work to maintain its dual, topographical and horizontal, viewpoints. Thelinytheliny-Warriny strengthens the depth of ochre work from the Kimberley in the State Art Collection, and continues to expand the narrative of first generation Gija storytellers.

Rusty (Djirri) Peters Theliny theliny warriny: Two Mothers for the Moon 2012

Rusty (Djirri) Peters Theliny theliny warriny: Two Mothers for the Moon 2012. Oochres and natural earth pigments on canvas
80.0 x 100.0 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012. © Rusty (Djirri) Peters, Thelinytheliny-Warriny 2012.

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May Creeth

born 1854 Victoria
died 1947 Perth, Western Australia


May Creeth was one of a significant group of independent women artists practising in Western Australia in the first few decades of the twentieth century. She often worked with her sister Helen, and together they were highly-regarded for their china painting which, in keeping with contemporary fashion, mostly featured Australian wildflower designs.

Plate with Leschenaultia decoration is from a group of six plates by May and Helen Creeth recently bought for the Collection. It features a central decorative motif of Australian native flowers, hand-painted on a commercially-produced china blank. Although Australian-born, the Creeths had trained at the South Kensington Art Schools in London and brought back to Australia first-hand knowledge of the English Arts and Crafts Movement. As a result, their hand-painted china is a synthesis of design philosophies associated with the Arts and Crafts and the emergent nationalism of Australian Federation. The informally-painted sprays of flowers demonstrate the Arts and Crafts movement’s commitment to reinvigorating ‘domestic art’ through a return to hand-craftsmanship and the application of simple decoration derived from nature and historical examples. However the choice of native Australian flowers – such as the popular Western Australian wildflower Leschenaultia biloba painted on this example – link to the privileging of local flora that was key to the aesthetic debates surrounding Federation. This work therefore reflects a debt to English traditions whilst also being part of Australia’s effort to cultivate political and cultural autonomy from England that saw designers using motifs solely drawn from their locale to produce a design language clearly independent from that of Europe.

May Creeth Plate with Leschenaultia decoration c.1920

May Creeth Plate with Leschenaultia decoration c.1920. Overglaze enamel hand-painted decoration and gilding on Frank Haviland Limoges porcelain blank, 2.2 x 22.0 cm (diameter, irregular). State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the Linton Currie Bequest, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012.

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Pippin Drysdale

born 1943 Melbourne, Victoria
works Fremantle, Western Australia

Pippin Drysdale is arguably Western Australia’s most internationally successful ceramic artist. Transcending functional ware, Drysdale’s careful and sophisticated approach to glazing and surface finish results in ‘three dimensional paintings’ that reflect the nuances and power of the Australian landscape. This work, based on a purplish palette, captures the feel and appearance of the closing of the day across the hills of the North-West of Western Australia. The gentle quietness of the whole is enlivened by the sharp flicker of bright colour on the bases of the vessels.

This work was acquired to extend AGWA’s holdings of Drysdale’s work. She was previously represented by eight single works spanning the years 1987 to 2002. The Gallery did not have a large group work that captured Drysdale’s interest in creating clusters of objects that complement each other and that create a sense of being within particular landscapes. Dusk ridge line 2011 is a major work that was sought to fill this particular gap.

Pippin Drysdale Dusk ridge line 2011

Pippin Drysdale Dusk ridge line 2011. Porcelain, nine vessels: dimensions variable. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012.

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Daniel Walbidi

born c1983 Broome, Western Australia
works Bidyadanga, Western Australia
Language: Mangala / Yulparitja

Daniel Walbidi is the youngest of a group of mainly elderly artists that have emerged from the Bidyadanga community, situated some 250 kilometres north of Broome in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. In the early 1970s, Daniel’s family walked out from the water-starved desert to the coastal homelands of the Karajarri people, where they lived at La Grange Mission. Five tribal groups from surrounding country came together from this forced exodus and from this a new community developed: the collaborative relationships inspiring the particular Bidyadanga style seen today.

Walbidi’s artwork is predominantly concerned with depicting his father’s country in the Great Sandy Desert. His work is a sumptuous explosion of both saltwater and desert colours, lines of miniature dots revealing the long grids of distance and time travelled by the Bidyadanga people, both literally and metaphorically. The character of his work is highly representative of the Bidyadanga style, and Walbidi is now recognised as one of its leading exponents.


Daniel Walbidi Kirriwirri & Kulyakartu 2011

Daniel Walbidi Kirriwirri & Kulyakartu 2011. Ssynthetic polymer paint on canvas, 121.5 x 120.5 cm. State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia. Purchased through the TomorrowFund, Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 2012.

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