Thursday, 26 April 2012

Sir William Dobell

Sir William Dobell (1899-1970)

In 1985 my only Uncle, Len Alexander,
took me, as a young art student, to view the
William Dobell retrospective exhibition
"The Painting of a Portrait"
at Lake Macquarie Community Gallery (NSW Australia).
After viewing the exhibition we drove around
to Wangi Wangi to walk through Dobell's house, 
which had been preserved as a monument to the artist.

I have kept the small publication from the exhibition 
(choc full of Max Dupain photographs of Dobell's works),
I bought a copy of Brian Adam's 1983 biography
"Portrait of an Artist" 
also Elizabeth Donaldson's 2010 book
William Dobell - "An Artist's Life".
I finally found a copy of the out of print 1964 James Gleeson tome
on Dobell a few
months ago at a second hand book shop
in Kingscliffe NSW.

I have seen many, many paintings and exhibitions by other artists since,
but funnily enough, it is the Lake Macquarie exhibition
which resonates as my all time favourite,
 not least for the associated memories of my dear Uncle.

I visit "The Cypriot" each time I go to the Queensland Art Gallery,
reinforcing the connections made at that first viewing almost 30 years ago.
(my growing children are even now making it a habit to drop in on "our old friend")

I would be interested to hear of artworks, artists & art experiences that resonate for you.

William Dobell  The Cypriot 1940 | Oil on canvas ( Collection: Queensland Art Gallery)

A few links to articles about Dobell:


  1. How fantastic Robyn to have such a wonderful uncle take you to something so meaningful that left a lasting impression on you and a lifelong love of Dobell's work to this day.

    1. Thanks Helen, yes he was a pretty special person!

  2. There are so many inspiring Australian artists, including Dobell. One of my favourites is Fred Williams whose landscapes always capture my imagination.

    1. Fred's works are very evocative of our sunburnt country Jo, I also like the humour and personality in our "local boy" Bill Robinson's works(there's a great permanent exhibition of his works housed at Old Government House QUT campus here in Brisbane).

  3. As a clueless American, I had never heard of Dobell's work and I find it wonderful. Thanks for a great and evocative post, Robyn.

  4. Hi Lynn, glad you enjoyed finding out about Dobell, historically & geographically we are quite isolated here in Australia, so I am not surprised you hadn't heard of him, but awfully glad you liked the post, thanks for taking the time to let me know.