Adelaide PERRY, The Bridge, October 1929. Enlarge 1 /1

Adelaide PERRY

Beechworth, Victoria, Australia 1891 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1973

  • Aotearoa New Zealand 1904-14
  • England, France 1922-25

The Bridge, October 1929. 1930 Title Notes: For title and date see Ward Gallery, 'An exhibition of woodcuts and linocuts by artists exhibiting in Sydney', cat. no., 54, inscribed 'The Bridge, October 1929'..
Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper linocut, printed in black ink, from one block Support: thin cream laid paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark.
Edition State: published state
Impression: undesignated impression
Edition: edition unknown

Edition Notes: Associated drawing, NGA 78.1095, "Study for the linocut "The Bridge.
Primary Insc: no inscriptions
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: no inscriptions.
Dimensions: printed image 32.8 h x 44.5 w cm sheet 35.6 h x 51.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of John Brackenreg 1978.
Accession No: NGA 78.1097
Subject: Sydney Harbour Bridge
Image rights: © Adelaide Perry
  • Gift to the Australian National Gallery, from John Brackenreg, Sydney, 1978.

Linocut printing became popular among Sydney women artists between the wars through the example and teaching of Adelaide Perry, Margaret Preston and Thea Proctor. Prices were low and they promoted these frequently bright and cheerful prints as the perfect form of decoration for a modern home.

Adelaide Perry is known particularly for her contribution to Australian printmaking from the late 1920s. Like many Australian artists in the 1920s, she made the pilgrimage to Europe to learn more about Modernism She studied at the Royal Academy School in London from 1922–25 and returned to Sydney a few years before the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge began. It captured the imagination of Sydney-siders and, both throughout its construction and in its final form, was the inspiration for artists like Grace Cossington Smith, Dorrit Black, Roland Wakelin and Robert Emerson-Curtis.

In The Bridge, October 1929, Perry has viewed the construction site from across the bay. The formation of the arch in its early stages, with crane aloft, is almost incidental to the intense foliage in the foreground. Stylised trees, that clearly show Perry’s allegiance to English printmakers and painters, inhabit more than half the picture. Beyond, we glimpse the daily life of the harbour, the distant suburb and the ferries and other boats traversing the bay. Small peaks in the water and the tilting of the trees suggest perhaps a gentle breeze. The arcs that define the tree tops on the right-hand side mirror the absent arch of the Bridge, which was slowly built over the next two years.

Helen Maxwell 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