Ethel SPOWERS, The works, Yallourn. Enlarge 1 /1


Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1890 – 1947

  • England, Europe 1921-23, 1928-29, 1931

The works, Yallourn. 1933 Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper linocut, printed in colour inks, from seven blocks Support: buff oriental laid tissue paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark.
Edition State: published state
Impression: 6/50
Edition: edition of 50

Primary Insc: Signed and dated lower right below printed image in black pencil, 'E.L. Spowers - 1933'. Titled lower left below printed image in black pencil, 'The Works - Yallourn'. Inscribed lower left below printed image in black pencil, '25/50'.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: no inscriptions.
Dimensions: printed image 15.7 h x 34.8 w cm sheet 23.8 h x 37.8 w cm
Cat Raisonné: PIAP | 1933.0006 | impression | National Gallery of Australia | 25/50
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1976
Accession No: NGA 76.136
Subject: Australia, Art style: Grosvenor school linocuts
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from Rudy Komon Gallery, Sydney, 1976.

Travel overseas and two quite distinct experiences of cubist and futurist art impacted enormously on the modernist style of Ethel Spowers. It was the teachings of Claude Flight at London’s Grosvenor School that most influenced her development. Almost entirely a printmaker, Spowers found her own sources of inspiration in Australia and saw the Yallourn coal mines in Victoria as a potent symbol of the new machine age. In this boldly modernist linocut, with its patterns of flat colour, Spowers created a composition with a slow and powerful rhythm. This she enhanced with a repetition of sweeping curves – grey clouds streak through the sky and endless processions of rail trucks haul coal from the mine. Power poles in a row stand as sentinels of the new modern age. They are balanced by the struts and curve of the bridge and, behind them, the bold diagonal forms of towering buildings. In shadow in the foreground are the remnants of a bygone era – two men collecting coal by hand with a horse and cart.

Anne McDonald

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002