Ray Crooke: The People and The Land

This exhibition of Ray Crooke's paintings includes works from the 1950s to more recent islander oil paintings.

From Thursday Island to Cape York, the exotic to the far reaching end of our own shores, Crooke expresses a genuine love of indigenous culture and indeed, the tales that the inhabitants of these shores contain. Capturing acts of the everyday, tinged with accents of culture from the pacific and mainland, Crooke's works present memory and culture as strongly entwined.

Themes of humanity, the everyday existence and the simple daily acts of island life are revealed through vibrancy of colour and strong shapes where the subjects are able to find expression within the frame. Featuring landscapes and vignettes of the everyday, Crookeís use of colour and shape create an easily identifiable style.

A former Archibald Prize winner, Crooke is represented in all major State Galleries, many regional galleries and private collections both within Australia and overseas, including the Vatican Collection Rome. As a testament to his contribution to the Australian art world in 1993 Ray Crooke received the OA for services to the visual arts.

On May 6, 2010 The Australian newspaper published an article about Ray Crooke, this is the link to the article: Undervalued artist presents his true worth

Tuesday to Friday, 10-6 and Saturday 11-5.

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Biographical Details:
Ray Crooke was born in Auburn, Victoria in 1922. Throughout the majority of his adult life he has lived and worked in Northern Queensland, and travelled extensively throughout Australia, Torres Strait and Pacific regions. His powerful imagery and vibrant colours have made Crooke one of Australia's most highly regarded artists.

Crooke first encountered the landscape as a young man enlisted in the army, where he travelled from Western Australia to Townsville, through Cape York Peninsula and the Atherton Tableland to Chillagoe and to Thursday Island, where he worked as a map-maker. These initial observations of vegetation, climate, hue and light underpinned his techniques as a landscape painter, and paved a way for many paintings in the 1960s and 70s.

'It takes time, often decades to absorb something of the essence of a place', writes Gavin Wilson in Encounters with Country, Landscapes of Ray Crooke, and Crooke's paintings have indeed immerged from an intense observational enquiry.

Ray Crooke is an avid drawer, recording ink, pen and watercolour sketches of his observations in notebooks. From these personal recordings he develops ideas and composition for the paintings.

Although Ray Crooke has been continually painting the Australian landscape since the early 1950s, he is perhaps best known for his life long affiliation with the Pacific and Fijian Islands. Since the late 1960s his images of the tropical north of Australia and the Pacific islands have enticed and enchanted viewers. Crooke continues to develop paintings from frequent trips to Fiji and to this day still travels to Fiji with his wife June.

Crooke was awarded an honorary doctorate and was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1993 for his contribution to Australian art. Crooke has also been the recipient of several notable awards. He won the Archibald prize in 1969 for his portrait of the writer, George Johnston. His work is represented by all state galleries, many regional galleries and the Vatican Museum in Rome.

Ray Crooke was honoured by a national touring retrospective of his work in 1997-98. Savill galleries held a major exhibition of Crooke's work in 2006, an exhibition that corresponded with a regional touring exhibition of his landscape paintings from the 1950s to 2004.


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