Tag Archives: art

Reginald Walter Coulter (1904–1976) Part Two

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Amendments to Part One: Aided by the amazing local knowledge provided by Neil Davis and backed by research undertaken by David Lever we have now established that Reginald Coulter was actually a long time Berowra resident. Previously we believed that he had arrived in Berowra sometime in the 1950s, but we can now say that Coulter came to Berowra in 1943. This adjustment certainly changes the way we view his cartoons of that period, particularly post Second World War. Additionally, we have confirmed his date of death to be 24 January 1976, which had not been notated in the public record.

This extremely detailed and finely drawn illustration by Reginald Coulter was produced specifically as an invitation to staff to attend the Bulletin’s annual picnic day.  Using the idea of a Corroboree to promote the Bulletin’s picnic day from today’s perspective is ironic. After all, the Bulletin incited a radical nationalist viewpoint at the exclusion of Indigenous people and migrants; they were seen as not part of the ‘Australian story’.  It championed the idea that Australia was for the ‘White Man’, sexist, racist and xenophobic, the Bulletin also became affectionately known in certain circles as the ‘Bushman’s bible’, everything and anything Australian was acceptable and highly celebrated, but at the exclusion of any world relations, issues or politics. By 1925, at the time when Coulter had illustrated this invitation, the founding editor of the Bulletin, John Archibald had left the magazine; he had built a solid readership and supported the careers of great writers and poets such as AB Paterson, Henry Lawson and Miles Franklin. On Archibald’s departure the magazine dipped not only in readership but also became a lot more conservative until Sir Frank Packer took control in 1961. With all that said, what is striking is the way the black-and-white artist Reginald Coulter has utilized the idea of a Corroboree to promote the annual picnic day creating a stylized depiction of dancers that appropriates Indigenous features with Western modes of dance – essentially a communion of people coming together in celebration.

Coulter’s wry commentary including a Who’s Who list on the invite is pertinent as the Bulletin supported a whole new generation of Australian writers and black-and-white artists like no other magazine of its period which rolled out as a who’s who list. In the foreground of the image, the Bulletin is represented as the strong and resilient bulldog against its more subdued competitors of a slinking slim cat and fluffy small dog Wildcat Monthly and the Australian Woman’s Mirror racing against time not to miss the departure of the boat is yet another clever twist of words and images that work in unison under the magical hand of the extraordinary black-and-white artist Reginald Coulter.

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A Unique And Mysterious Vase

Unknown maker, late Victorian hand-painted glass vase

Unknown maker, late Victorian hand-painted glass vase

This unique glass vase was purchased by long-time Berowra resident Merle Davis at auction in 1984 from one of the first homes built in Berowra circa 1895, called The Laurels. The auction comprised an extensive list of antiques and collectables; it attracted a huge crowd on the day with many bidders and spectators vying for some spectacular items. The Laurels was a well-known guesthouse in its heyday, a welcome retreat for people mostly escaping the hubbub of city life on the weekends. Unfortunately the house no longer exists due to the recent redevelopments happening in Berowra.

An exceptional piece of hand-blown glass made during the turn of the last century, the vase is stylised in what is known as the ‘grotesque’. It was fortunate that my mother-in-law then gifted us the vase, which remains a great talking piece with our visitors due to its unusual design. One friend suggested that perhaps a collective of glassmakers around the1900s had made it. She could see it as an experimental piece, its production would have been done after hours by hands utilising the left over’s of the working day. I have found no other vase comparable to this one and certainly agree that this late Victorian vase in the spirit of its making has stood the test of time.

Can you add any information?

Rhonda

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Is This A Mystery Man?

portrait of ww1 mystery man Apr 2015

The accompanying portrait was found in a street clean up and rescued by a local resident. This engaging image could be a painting or a photograph but has been altered and suffered minor damage to the surface. Recently it was given to the Berowra RSL Sub-Branch Secretary who is keen to identify the subject.

The Secretary, Sandra Hawkins, has researched and found the following- The man is wearing a World War 1 uniform with a (blue over green) colour patch  indicating he was a member of the 13th Infantry Battalion.This Battalion was recruited in New South Wales and with the 14th,15th and 16th Battalions formed the 4th Brigade, commanded by Colonel John Monash.

However on the reverse of the portrait along with written instructions about hair, eyes, complexion and altering the neck scarf is the note (purple over green). Which would indicate this man belonged to the 2nd Infantry Battalion of the 1st Brigade.This Battalion along with the 1st,3rd, and 4th Battalions was recruited in New South Wales.

Both the 13th battalion of the 4th Brigade and the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Brigade landed at ANZAC Cove late in the afternoon of 25th April 1915.These Battalions served at ANZAC Cove until the evacuation in December 1915.

DO YOU KNOW THIS MAN? If you can assist Sandra in identifying him please contact her on 9456 2621

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A Remarkable Find: George Collingridge Paintings

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Recently I had the good fortune to have the opportunity to purchase three paintings by former resident of Berowra Creek, George Collingridge.

I noticed the paintings in an online catalogue for a local art auction. The watercolours were framed as a triptych. It was obvious that the value of the paintings was not fully appreciated, as the reserve price was $100 to $150. Although I must say that it is difficult to know their true value as so few come onto the market. However, to me, possessing an interest in local history, they are rare and valuable.

I nervously attended the auction, intent on being the successful bidder. To add to the tension I noticed others in the room singling out the Collingridge paintings and carefully examining them. Another bidder ( on-line) obviously had the same desire of acquisition and bid up to $750 in nerve wracking increments of $50. The paintings were mine at $800.

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I have had an interest in art as well as local Berowra history for over 40 years. During that time I have never seen a Collingridge for sale. Although I have since found that a small number, maybe 8 or 9 have been offered for sale at high prices during that period.

From the style of the works and the signatures on each work I believe that they were painted circa 1885/1886. At that time the artist was living either at Collingridge Point, Berowra Creek or at a later place of residence in a home he built in what is now in the grounds of Hornsby Hospital.

Collingridge settled on Berowra Creek during the early 1880’s and lived there for five years. Both of these homes still exist.

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I am not aware of the locations he has depicted in any of the three paintings. As he travelled extensively around Sydney, the Central Coast, the south coast and the Blue Mountains, they so far present a mystery yet to be solved. I see Singletons Mill and Dusthole Bay as possible contenders.

Enquiries with the auctioneers revealed that the woman who sold them, bought the works at a garage sale at a small cottage in Birchgrove about twenty years ago. From memory she thought that the owner may have been related to the artist or had been a neighbour or friend. It seem there was a connection with the artist.

On examination of the back of the paintings I found the artists instructions to the framer indicating the order in which he wanted the works to be displayed.

There is a considerable documentation on George Collingridge and his many achievements which I won’t attempt to summarise here. However I was curious as to what his personality might have been like. It is easy to be misled be the few formal portraits.

In the records of the Mitchell Library I was pleased to find two newspaper interviews conducted by reporters from the Sydney Morning Herald on the occasion of Collingridges 72nd birthday and his 80th birthday.

Both reporters described him as welcoming, enthusiastic and full of life. He was only too willing to stop what he was working on and talk extensively about his life and his plans for a further trip around the world in his eighties. One of the reporters stated that his studio and work area were just the opposite of what one might imagine that an artists studio might look like. Collingridges work area was immaculate and well ordered.

David Lever

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Reflections: Berowra Waters

Langker reflections on Berowra Creek

The small exquisite oil painting by the artist Sir Erik Langker (1898-1982) Reflections, Berowra Waters depicts the creek from some time ago. Imbued with a soothing quietness, the work provides a welcome accompaniment for this time of year after dealing with the hustle and bustle of the festive season.

If this painting relates to another by Langker in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection with a similar title River Reflections and assuming the work was purchased by the AGNSW the same year it was painted in 1948, Reflections, Berowra Waters could also be dated to this period.

Erik Langker was an accomplished and influential artist within the Sydney art establishment during the mid part of the twentieth century. Amongst many roles he played, Langker served as the President of the Trustees at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Subsequently, in 1968 Langker was awarded a knighthood for his outstanding services to the arts. In an article published in the North Shore Times, dated 3 December 1980, Langker felt himself to be a ‘middle period’ painter of the impressionist school.

Reflections, Berowra waters shows a view looking towards the direction of Brooklyn and with an unidentified house in the distant background the exact location is difficult to determine. It appears the artist has painted the work in the plein air tradition of working outdoors. The colours softly muted in brown and green tones contrasts beguilingly with the turquoise colour of the water in the foreground, encapsulates Berowra Waters in its timeless beauty.

Rhonda Davis

 

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