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Alison Rehfisch

In their own words

Recorded 1965

Alison Rehfisch
Audio: 2 minutes

When my daughter reached school age, a terrific longing to paint came over me, I just had to do something like that. I joined Dattilo Rubbo’s classes. It was then that I really did start to work. He was a wonderful teacher. He realised I was an unconventional, peculiar sort of person really, and he rather encouraged it, not always approving but always sympathetic and helpful. It was there that I met my present husband, who has always been a help to me, with his encouragement and criticism and so on, George Duncan.

I worked seriously for years and years and from that day to now I’ve never ceased to paint.

Within the last few years, I’ve been extraordinarily interested in an ecological approach, which is the balance of life and place. I wanted to balance my subjects with something behind it, something deeper behind it. I think my early childhood feelings about trying to get behind things had something to do with it. It’s always been with me, always been interested in the other side of things. But somehow or other it’s terribly difficult to get right behind things, as I think every artist should do. After all, its’ not just a superficial rendering of the things we see in front of us, it’s trying to get the spirit behind all that and join it up with something, another life that isn’t quite only of this world, and I expect I shall go along those lines for quite a while yet.

Usually, when I’m painting anything at all, things come to me. I’m slightly psychic, and things come to me in that peculiar period just between waking and sleeping. I see the whole composition, the colour scheme, the feeling of the thing, but I have to work out the detail, of course, physically, myself, afterwards; but the whole general feeling of the thing usually comes to me, and I never start an important work unless that happens because I find it’s never any use at all.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Alison Rehfisch is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

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Alison Rehfisch

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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