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Hans Heysen

In their own words

Recorded 1960

Hans Heysen
Audio: 2 minutes

I love rising early in the mornings, to get the dew, that lovely light that one finds on an autumn morning, with the sun bathing the mist, and objects just emerging in mysterious and beautiful forms, simplified.

One of the main differences, I find, in the Australian landscape from that of Europe, is the intensity of light, the beauty of its skies, which fascinate me always. When I came back from my last visit from Europe, this impressed me more than anything else, the intensity of our light in South Australia. And it’s one of the essential qualities in the landscape, I think, that you really should aim at, which is too often ignored and forgotten.

Our blue skies, too, are being forgotten nowadays. We think too much and practise the ‘isms’ that come from overseas, and forget all the beauties that belong to our own country, and distinct beauties, different from anything else that I have known or met in England or anywhere on the continent of Europe.

My preparations for a picture, or pictures, it is always made out from nature direct. I make a series of sketches, anything that impresses me, and also a series of minute drawings giving the character of the forms or of anything that interests me outside, but when I come back to the studio, I rely mainly on my memory for painting my pictures.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Hans Heysen 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.

Related people

Sir Hans Heysen OBE

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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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