One of Australia’s greatest engineering projects, the Sydney Harbour Bridge inspired many of Australia’s early modernist artists. For printmaker Jessie Traill, the Bridge became a symbol of modern design and technology and the subject of some of her finest work.
This work with its definitive title Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931, indicates that she was more interested in the bridge under construction than as a finished object. Her work celebrated the industry of the antlike workers, seen from her vantage point on the top deck within the construction area. This allowed her to look up at the arc of the Bridge framed by the girders above and the cropped shadowy form on the right.
The vertical elongation of this print accentuates the height of the pylons and demonstrates her familiarity with Japanese prints. The unusual angles and the emphasis on lineal patterns and geometric shapes also show the influence of the modernist movements such as cubism and abstraction on her work.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010