Skip to main content

To help keep our visitors and staff safe, please book your spot before visiting.

Menu

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.

Roland Wakelin

In their own words

Recorded 1961 or 1962

Roland Wakelin
Audio: 2 minutes

I usually see subjects when I’m walking along, perhaps it might be in a street or somewhere like that. Perhaps when there’s a particular effect of light on; I’ve seen a subject which looked magnificent at one time, and I’ve gone back to it another day, and it hasn’t looked like anything at all. A lot depends on the effect of light; that is why when I’m painting landscape, I prefer a day when there are plenty of clouds rolling around so that you get varying degrees of light, shadows cast across the landscape and that sort of thing.

Back in 1919, de Meistre and I both experimented with abstract act, abstract painting. De Meistre, I think, has perhaps carried this further than I did at the time, but after several experiments, I decided that that wasn’t exactly my line of country, that I needed something of the visual image in my work. And so although from time to time since I have done abstractions, I haven’t exhibited them, I’ve done them more as an exercise because I think the abstract idea is very important from the view of constructive design.

In much of the work of the present day, I find that this constructive idea has rather gone by the board, and that, I think, is not very promising for the future of that kind of work. It’s rather too haphazard, it relies too much on chance and doesn’t bring forth the full creative powers of the artist.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Roland Wakelin 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

Roland Wakelin

Related information

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

Support your Portrait Gallery

We depend on your support to keep creating our programs, exhibitions, publications and building the amazing portrait collection!

Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency