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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Ian Fairweather

In their own words

Recorded 1963

Ian Fairweather
Audio: 2 minutes

I started painting quite young. I used to paint in oils to begin with, but I got an attack of lead poisoning from it and a lot of trouble with my finger, so I gave up painting in oils and I’ve never painted with them since. I always paint now in gouache.

After World War I, I went to the Slade School to study art. I was there for about three years.

I used to sketch from nature a good deal but I don’t do that now at all. Things gradually develop. I like to have them hanging on my wall cooking, and in time, they grow by themselves.

Painting to me is quite a mystery, and I really don’t know how I do it, but just work at it, that’s about the only thing. I use any colour I can get at the local store, hardware store. Mostly I use powder colour, and I mix it with polyvinyl acetate. I live in my studio, and any time an idea crops up, I try to paint it, no matter whether it’s in the middle of the night or what time.

I take a very long time over my paintings, I’m afraid. When I first came here, there were about 10 acres of pine trees round the place where I built my hut in the middle of them, but the bushfires have cut them all down, and now, I’m afraid, there are just a few round the house.

Painting to me is something of a tightrope act; it’s between the representation and the other thing – whatever that is. And it’s difficult to keep one’s balance – I don’t know.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Ian Fairweather 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.

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Ian Fairweather

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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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency