Sybil Craig 'Gumnuts' - Collected by Hamish

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 grounded in her pedagogy under the esteemed 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 modernity from the mid-twentieth century. Gumnuts is an example. Following Margaret Preston, Craig draws an elegant design of gumnuts against a tangerine background.

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 elegant watercolour of the 1940s, this tension lingers. Demure but bright, daring yet slight.

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 bewitching drawing lies a person and history deserving of our attention.

Sybil CRAIG (1901 - 1989)
'Gumnuts '
mixed media on paper
Image Size: 10 x 8 cm
Dimensions: 28 x 21 cm

Comparable works are represented at the National Gallery of Victoria, Sybil Craig: Eucalyptus leaves and gum-nuts (1941), accession no.: P75-1990; Eucalyptus leaves and gum-nuts(1941), accession no.: P108-1990; and Eucalyptus leaves and gumnuts (Calendar 1942) (1941), accession no.: P107-1990.

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. Image quality is good, general colour due to age on the paper.

Work is mounted and wrapped. 

© The Artist or Assignee