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A team of mules drag away rock after it has been cut from the quarry face in Heysen’s The Quarry (1922).
A team of mules drag away rock after it has been cut from the quarry face in Heysen’s The Quarry (1922).

Painting a picture of quarries

It’s a rare thing to find beautiful paintings of quarries but Australian painter Hans Heysen loved to paint and sketch them.
Heysen enjoyed exploring the subject of quarries in different media, winning the Wynne Prize with a watercolour version in 1922. Many of his quarry sketches and paintings are simply entitled The Quarry.

In the Wollongong version of The Quarry the workers are dwarfed by a towering cliff bathed in the intense light of red and amber.

There is a strip of greyish blue sky, its line broken with a few trees, but the composition is dominated by the imposing vast quantity of bare rock.

"He had this idea, and this image, of the powerful landscape and then humans come in and cut through the landscape and expose all the rock and natural stone," said Wollongong gallery program director John Monteleone.

"In this particular painting you have a team of mules dragging the rock away as it has been cut from the surface, from the face of the quarry.

“I think a lot of Heysen's work has that sense of man and nature and, like a lot of artists who came from overseas, their first impressions of the Australian landscape was that it was rough and powerful compared to the European landscape, where humans had made their mark for thousands of years.

"Some artists felt disconnected with the Australian landscape because it was so different from their own experience, but I think Heysen embraced it. He really enjoyed this idea of humans coming in and being in the landscape and making their mark."

Heysen’s painting of the quarry is part of the George and Nerissa Johnson Bequest that consists of 60 paintings, mostly Australian landscapes, and a substantial endowment fund that has enabled the gallery to buy more than 100 regionally significant works by artists such as Tom Roberts, Conrad Martens, Eugene von Guerard, Grace Cossington Smith and Adelaide Perry.

Hans Heysen, The Quarry (1922) is on show at the Wollongong City Gallery Collection.

Source: The Australian

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Monday, 26 August, 2019 3:43pm
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