S.H. Ervin Gallery

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Intrepid Women

February 16, 2018

It’s an historical fact that women have almost always outnumbered men at Australian art schools but accounted for only a small proportion of works acquired for public collections. The times have been a-changing for the past few decades, with no gallery overtly discriminating against female artists, but there is still a debt to be paid … More


Elisabeth Cummings

June 6, 2017

In the annals of Australian art Elisabeth Cummings was an almost invisible presence for the first 30 years of her career. The story would change in the early 1990s when she began to attract serious attention from private collectors, who are always quicker off the mark than public institutions. After a slow start, partly due … More


Margaret Olley

February 24, 2017

It’s hard to believe it’s been more than five years since Margaret Olley died. She was such a forceful personality I still half expect to see her pushing through a crowd at the Art Gallery of NSW, using her walking frame to clear a path. The art world is notorious for its doublespeak but Margaret … More


Guy Warren

April 29, 2016

Guy Warren is the best proof that a positive attitude is the secret of eternal youth. Having just turned 95, Warren seems as vital as ever. I’ve known him for about 30 years and he hardly seems to have changed. He’s still painting and drawing, still driving, still alert and articulate. He’s one of those … More


Destination Sydney

January 22, 2016

Destination Sydney is an inelegant title. It may be that Australian audiences only respond to the most banal and descriptive titles but that’s no reason for making shows sound like tourism initiatives. At the risk of coming across as a snob, I can only describe it as vulgar. Complaint registered, I’m happy to record that … More


Salon des Refusés 2015 & Stars + Stripes

August 8, 2015

Archibald season demands to be taken seriously because it’s the only time of the year most of the public feel motivated to visit the Art Gallery of NSW and associated venues. During the Archibald Prize the AGNSW is full of people – a surge in visitation that has become more crucial than ever. With both … More


William Dobell: Painter in Paradise

July 4, 2015

Although he was one of Australia’s best-known artists, William Dobell (1899-1970) was inordinately sensitive to criticism. After the notorious court case over his Archibald Prize win of 1943, Dobell withdrew to his hideaway in Wangi where he suffered from a series of nervous complaints. He broke out in severe dermatitis and at one point lost … More


Roy Jackson

March 28, 2015

In an era when art has plumbed new depths of frivolity, Roy Jackson (1944-2013) was almost too serious for his own good. He stubbornly believed the only thing that counted was the quality of the work, not the ephemeral ego gratifications artists enjoy during their 15 minutes of fame. He wasn’t even sure about the … More


Five Decades at Watters Gallery

September 27, 2014

On 18 November Watters Gallery will be celebrating its 50th birthday. This is an amazing achievement in a field in which most players never make it through a decade. Commercial art galleries are the economic equivalents of the canary in the coal mine – being the first to suffer in times of recession as people … More


Salon des Refusés 2014

August 9, 2014

So much has already been written about Sydney’s $9.3 million public sculpture proposals that I’m in two minds whether to comment or leave it alone. Nevertheless, it’s an issue that won’t go away. It’s depressing that the very idea of a city council spending money on art brings out the philistine in a large proportion … More


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