Clifton Pugh 'Rapids above St Johns Falls'

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Clifton Pugh is an iconic Australian artist and environmentalist. In 1954, he travelled across the Nullarbor with his friend Noel Macainsh, realising;

“the boundless extent of a land, paradoxically both harsh and delicate, together with the illimitable space above it.”

This perception of the land as a vessel for time, humanity and spirituality underlies both his art and environmentalism. Three years before visiting the Nullarbor, Pugh purchased land at Cottles Bridge: the eventual site of the artist’s community ‘Dunmoochin’. Instrumental in Australia’s conservation movement, the Dunmoochins worked to regenerate the land, witnessing first hand the degradation caused by feral animals. 

In ‘Rapids above St Johns Falls’ Pugh’s adoration for the land is clear. Textual, expressionistic and cast in a kaledoscopic palette, this work celebrates Australia’s scrub. Fellow artist James Gleeson once described Pugh’s bushland as a battlefield between native and introduced species. Here however, tranquility reigns: it is as though Pugh is warning of environmental threat through emphasising nature’s preciousness. 

Across his career, Pugh won the Archibald Prize twice, was made an Officer of Order of Australia in 1985 and in 1990 was appointed Australia’s War Memorial’s official artist at the 75th anniversary celections of the Gallipoli landing. His contributions to art were uncompromising, unique and bracing. 

Clifton PUGH (1924 - 1990)
'Rapids above St Johns Falls'
Coloured Etching
edition of 70
Image Size: 33 x 50 cm
Paper Dimensions: 52 x 75 cm
Signed: Lower right
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Condition: Very Good

(c) Artist or Assignee