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Janet Dawson

In their own words

Recorded 1965

Janet Dawson
Audio: 2 minutes

From the point of view of method, I find that my method has changed radically, as of course it must do. I used to work very directly without preparing very much. Now I find that although I must work directly, I usually work on about three or four paintings and a series of drawings before anything final comes out of this. A final, or a finalised painting, quite often happens fairly quickly. With my particular method it must be very fresh. I find that very clean, very fresh colour is essential. I find tremendous sensual delight in clarity and finality of area, so consequently a painting can’t possibly have any labour on its actual surface, the labour must go on in other places. And I find that the more I work, the more prolonged are these periods of making studies and drawings.

I find that I’m continually going back to the figure as being something that contains so much, so many possibilities. Through exploration, probably like all good sensualists, I keep finding the figure in landscape and the landscape in the figure; areas of flesh stretched across muscle or relaxed, tightened up, loose flesh, delicate little veins, bony areas, are things that I feel with tremendous ecstasy that I’ve never yet been able to put down in any way, something that I’m trying very hard to do at the moment.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Janet Dawson 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

Related people

Janet Dawson

Related information

Brown form with stripes, 1961
Brown form with stripes, 1961
Brown form with stripes, 1961
Brown form with stripes, 1961

Figurative foundation

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2010

Joanna Gilmour explores the life and art of the Australian artist Janet Dawson.

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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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