Early Australian Art

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The art of any culture is what helps to identify that nation as unique. Some of the first early Australian art works were done of Australian animals and flowers by those who came here on the first fleet - Joseph Banks and Sydney Parkinson. Paintings were not the only contributions; sculpture, engravings, lithographs and even architecture are included in the impressive line-up.

Of course, before they every arrived the indigenous peoples had their own art forms that they used to decorate bark, rocks and the walls of caves and indeed, their own bodies. Their art included sculpture and etching, weaving and string art.

The first-fleet artists were not even of Australian descent, but portrayed faithfully not only the flora and fauna of Australia, but the times and life that they experienced both upon arrival and afterwards. Amazingly enough, even though Australia was colonised primarily as a place to dump convicts from Britain, many artists did make their way to the new country. Some like John Eyre, came as convicts, but many others such as John Glover came as free settlers. And they all brought with them the styles of painting and art that were prevalent in Europe in their day - that is, realism.

The works of Australian artists have progressed through this early colonial stage to landscape, modernist and then contemporary. Out of these four it is the landscape era that is unique to modern Australian art. Australian artists tried hard to capture the difference of the Australian ambience to that of Europe, though some did try to paint Australian landscapes with the softer European light to better please the European artistic eye.

John Glover is credited with being the father of the Australian landscape painting era. He was already a successful artist in Europe and he retired to Tasmania where he started painting again and captured the Australian countryside so beautifully that he became twice famous.

For more information please visit us on www.bridgetmcdonnellgallery.com.au.

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