Lawrence DAWS, [bird] Enlarge 1 /1

Lawrence DAWS

Adelaide, South Australia, Australia born 1927

  • Europe, England, Russia, India, Mexico, USA, Canada 1960-70

[bird] 1970 Place made: Kelpra Studio, London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper screenprint, printed in colour inks, from multiple stencils Support: paper
Edition State: published state
Impression: 60/75
Edition: edition of 75

Dimensions: printed image 53.0 h x 53.0 w cm sheet 77.6 h x 69.1 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1972
Accession No: NGA 72.151
Image rights: © Lawrence Daws
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from an unknown vendor, 1972.

Lawrence Daws travelled to the outback areas of Australia on geological surveys and, inspired by these visits, painted works with dark troubled skies, limitless flat sandy plains and a one-point perspective. In 1956, he turned towards a kind of symbolic abstraction, creating images with totem-like figures over vast plains conveying a sense of space and time, change and destruction. In his screenprints, Daws created a system of personal motifs, repeating icons in several images, like running lines of communication between one work and another. In his book on the artist, Neville Weston discussed Daw’s use of the bird motif:

The omen bird is a recurrent image … and, somehow, seems to have always been waiting to glide disturbingly and majestically across the skies. This is no migratory visitor or harbinger of spring, but a dark presager of doom. It is a beautiful and fearful image and, like the burning forms, it casts no shadow and seems a totally silent intrusion, a passing threat. The bird shape, as it develops during the 1971 ‘Omen Bird’ series, is actually based on a seagull seen illustrated in a magazine, and subsequently painted black: it seemed almost timeless in the way it moved with a smooth flow of menace. The shape of this powerfully moving threat is not unlike the form of a manta ray gliding through the murky medium of underwater film spectaculars.1

Lawrence Daws continues to work in a distinctive semi-abstract approach, using a symbolic language.

Neville Weston and Anne Gray 2002

1 Neville Weston, Lawrence Daws, Sydney: Reed, 1982, p.99.

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