Ethel CARRICK, The quay, Milsons Point Enlarge 1 /1


Uxbridge, England 1872 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia 1952

  • France from 1905, North Africa and Spain 1911, Australia 1908, 1913-16, and frequent visits thereafter

The quay, Milsons Point 1908 Materials & Technique: paintings, oil on artists' board
Primary Insc: signed lower left in oil, 'Carrick 08'. not dated.

Dimensions: 26.4 h x 34.9 w cm framed (overall) 375 h x 455 w x 50 d mm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1975
Accession No: NGA 75.111

More detail

English-born and trained, Ethel Carrick visited Sydney for the first time in 1908 with her Australian husband and fellow-artist E. Phillips Fox. Carrick painted numerous impressions of Australian beaches, urban life and leisure in the manner of her light-filled European travel images, revelling in Australia’s bright sunlight and the era’s fashions.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2013
From: Miriam kelly, Capital & Country: The Federation Years 1900 – 1913, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2013

Ethel Carrick first visited Australia in 1908, three years after her marriage to fellow painter Emanuel Phillips Fox. English-born and trained, Carrick delighted in the light and colour of open air subjects – whether in Cornwall, France, North Africa or Australia. She painted many oil sketches that capture the casual attitudes of passers-by in public spaces. She used short brushstrokes to animate the scene of transient natural effects and human movement.

In Sydney Harbour, Carrick placed four horizontal bands across the picture: shore, sea, city, sky. In the foreground are two groups of women and children waiting for the ferry, probably from McMahon’s Point or Milson’s Point. She used dark and white dresses (and just one boldly striped gown) to balance the left and the right. In the centre of the composition she placed a band of sea, populated with ferries, yachts and ships and, above that, a view of the city beneath a smudged swathe of sky. 

Carrick used a high-key palette, that is, colours mixed with white rather than darker hues. As the Impressionists had demonstrated, tonal contrast and detail diminish with distance. The artist accentuated her free brushwork, especially on the white dresses, hats, shirt and parasol, by the use of impasto (thick layers of paint in which brush marks are visible). 

Christine Dixon

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