Miriam STANNAGE, Letter from Australia Enlarge 1 /1


Northam, Western Australia, Australia 1939 – Perth, Western Australia, Australia 2016

  • Europe, UK, Canada 1962-63
  • France 1970-71

Letter from Australia 1976 Place made: Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper offset-lithograph, printed in black ink, from one plate Support: paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 2/65
Edition: edition of 65

Primary Insc: Signed and dated lower right below printed image in black pencil, 'Stannage '76'.Inscribed lower right below printed image in black pencil, 2/65'.
Dimensions: printed image 64.0 h x 43.8 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1976
Accession No: NGA 76.1232
Image rights: © Miriam Stannage
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from Hogarth Galleries, Sydney, December 1976.

The print, Letter from Australia, was one of a series done in 1976 using pages from newspapers, international art journals (some from the 1930s) and popular magazines. I wanted to juxtapose art images (including Australian artists’ paintings) within an everyday public context such as newspaper television-sale advertisements. In 1976, these had no images framed in the empty screens. In later versions I collaged the emu, bushranger Ned Kelly and the explorer onto different paintings by Joan Miró, Kenneth Noland and Jackson Pollock, and in different locations such as China, Ireland and Canada respectively. Today, through computer technology, similar collage manipulations are commonplace in advertising and works of art. I have used this new artist’s medium since 1995.

As a visual artist, sight and what is seen and unseen is a central concern. To explore this theme, I transform literature, art criticism, words (including braille) and letters (public or private) into photographs, paintings or mixed media works of art. The unique Australian landscape is often contrasted with city and suburban imagery, the life of our consumer society and man-made objects.

Time is a recurring motif. Past, present and future intertwine in subjects relating to nature, religion, war, sex and sexuality: all concerning life and death. However serious the ideas and images are, my work is often lightened in a classical minimalist style by wit and irony – wit (not cleverness) implying constant introspection and perception of life’s experiences both physical and spiritual.

Miriam Stannage, 2002

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