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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.

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Jean Appleton

In their own words

Recorded 1962

Jean Appleton
Audio: 2 minutes

I don’t work out of doors now as I used to, and I think I’ve become a little less interested in landscape than I used to be. I like to work very freely and spontaneously in colour. And I feel if one has too much of a preconceived idea, one tends to lose the freshness and get a rather forced and striving feeling about it, as if you were trying to copy something that you already had seen in your mind.

I’ve found myself becoming increasingly interested in still life subjects. I feel I like to abstract them a good deal but I’m interested in shapes and objects in space, and their relationship to each other, and I look for the abstract qualities in these things rather than making any effort to reproduce them.

I’m interested in order; I don’t like things to be chaotic, and I like to feel that there is an ordered relation between the parts of a painting. Colour, of course, is an absolute joy, and I love warm colours; reds, yellows and warm violets, although I get a great deal of pleasure out of blues, too – I think it’s perhaps unwise to say that you have any favourite colours.

I like to work on a fairly large scale and I like to be able to start a painting and go on and work and work at it without being interrupted. I think that’s one of the most difficult things in this modern life we lead, being able to get away from interruptions.

But I do think it’s awfully difficult to say just what your aim is in painting a picture. I feel that the picture says it for you much better than you can say it yourself. And I feel that any good thing in a painting is usually something that you can’t talk about.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Jean Appleton 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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Jean Appleton

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Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

In good company

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2015

Jean Appleton’s 1965 self portrait makes a fine addition to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection writes Joanna Gilmour.

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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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