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April 14, 2021

National print collection on show in Tweed

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 Jessie Traill; Afternoon in Collins Street; 1911; etching and aquatint, printed in black ink, from one plate; plate-mark 28.2 x 38.0cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2006. © Estate of Jessie Traill
Jessie Traill; Afternoon in Collins Street; 1911; etching and aquatint, printed in black ink, from one plate; plate-mark 28.2 x 38.0cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 2006. © Estate of Jessie Traill

Works by one of Australia’s most important 20th century printmakers go on display at Tweed Regional Gallery tomorrow (Friday) for six weeks as part of a National Gallery of Australia touring exhibition.

The exhibition titled  ‘Stars in the River: the prints of Jessie Traill’, features more than 100 of the renowned printer’s works and will be on display till Sunday 2 August.

Opening public celebrations tomorrow at the gallery at 5.15pm include a talk on Traill and her influence on Australian culture by exhibition curator and senior curator of Australian prints, drawings and illustrated books at the national gallery, Roger Butler.

The National Gallery of Australia acquired the outstanding collection of Traill’s prints over the past 30 years.

Tweed Regional Gallery director Susi Muddiman says Traill is an artist central to the history of Australian printmaking.

‘Growing up in Melbourne’s bayside suburbs of Sandringham and Brighton gave Jessie Traill an early appreciation of the natural landscape,’ Ms Muddiman said.

‘Traill studied painting and drawing at the National Gallery School in Melbourne, and took lessons in etching from prominent Melbourne printmaker John Mather; intrigued by the medium, she later moved to England to study with key printmaker Frank Brangwyn, who brought a bold and experimental quality to her printmaking.

‘Returning to Australia in 1909, Traill was one of the earliest artists to produce colour etchings.

‘Jessie Traill’s wonderful etchings embrace the possibilities of both innovation and the everyday; we are thrilled to celebrate these extraordinary prints,’ Ms Muddiman said.

Jessie Traill; Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931; 1931; etching, printed in black ink with plate-tone, from one plate; plate-mark 37.6 x 14.8cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 1979. © Estate of Jessie Traill
Jessie Traill; Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931; 1931; etching, printed in black ink with plate-tone, from one plate; plate-mark 37.6 x 14.8cm. National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. Purchased 1979. © Estate of Jessie Traill

The exhibition displays early career works of Victoria rural scenes, including numerous striking depictions of landscapes and Melbourne, as the ‘Paris of the South’, as well as her major series documenting the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

‘The exhibition conveys her poetic sensitivity with an unerring eye for line and form; Traill’s large, bold and dramatic compositions are recognised as vital to the evolution of post-war Modernism,’ Ms Muddiman said.

Exhibition curator and senior curator of Australian prints, drawings and illustrated books, Roger Butler, said Traill was under-represented in collecting institutions until the late 1970s.

‘The National Gallery of Australia first acquired her prints in 1976 and is privileged to present this important exhibition which establishes Jessie Traill as a key figure in the history of Australian printmaking,’ Mr Butler said.

The exhibition will officially open at 6pm tomorrow after the talk by Mr Butler.


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