Art historian Mary Eagle once described Australian modernist Sybil Craig as “devastatingly direct” and “almost overwhelmingly vital”. She was born a tomboy to affluent parents and in 1945, was the third woman ever to be appointed an official war artist, the first to paint women working in the munitions factories.
As an official war artist, she produced bright, vivacious scenes of women at work informed by teachers Bernard Hall and George Bell. At home however, she allowed herself to experiment, creating “exercises” she withheld from sale. These works, instinctive and marvellous, are bursts of innovation.
On a fellowship from the State Library of Victoria, playwright Monica Raszewski developed a play about Craig. The work ruminates on the division between public and private – what must be exhibited to the world, and what is privately felt. In this work, Raszewskis thesis lingers. Craig draws a traditional maritime subject, boats, in abstracted wisps of colour.
Represented at the National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, State Library of Victoria and across regional galleries, Craig is a luminous yet under-observed figure of Australian modernism. She will enrich collections of important works on paper and female artists.
In this drawing lies a person and history deserving of our attention.
Sybil CRAIG (1901 - 1989)
Mixed media on paper
Image Size: 15 x 34 cm
Dimensions: 30 x 48 cm
Signed: Signed 'Sybil Craig' lower left
Condition: Very Good: Describes a work of art's image as Excellent, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear to paper or frame. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to the paint surface.
Work is mounted and wrapped.
© The Artist or Assignee