Alexander Sadlo – 2nd edition

Alexander Sádlo worked in several media, ranging from painting in oils and other media to enamels, jewellery and ceramics. Particular interests were translating into paint movement of the human figure and three-dimensional illusions in abstract forms.
In much of the latter style of work he operated close to the Optical Art produced by luminaries such as Briget Riley, Victor Vasarely and Yaacov Agam. He had a preference for using carefully articulated and graded coloured stripes in many of these paintings, a device he also employed in many of his realistic and semi-abstract compositions.
In terms of Australian art, he was a pioneer of Op Art, and his presence in Adelaide and at the Contemporary Art Society had an osmotic effect on a later generation of painters who emerged from the South Australian School of Art and are now credited with bringing Hard-edge, Colour Field and Op Art to the fore in Australia.
In the 1960s he was also one of the first artists in Australia to produce collages that commented on and documented the period. This work coincided with a heightening of the palette in his paintings, which absorbed some of the stylistic inclinations of contemporary fashions, design and Pop Art.
From 1972, Alex lived in England with his wife, Gaynor. He represented Britain in International competitions in Limoges, France; Tokyo, Japan (where he was a prize winner); and Austria. In 2006 he held a survey in Západočeská Gallery, the state gallery in Plzen, in the western part of the Czech Republic. He died after a brief illness at home in Eastbourne in December 2021, and a posthumous survey was held at Devonshire Collective’s gallery VOLT, in early 2022.

This is a revised, updated, and expanded edition in hardback, produced through in 2023. It has 152 pages, 194 illustrations (100 full-page colour), and dust-jacket. It is also available as an economical PDF.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths

Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths exhibition catalogue

Silent Depths: An exhibition of artworks by Malcolm Carbins (1921–2002)
RSASA Gallery, 18 March – 2 April 2022

Malcolm Carbins was born in Kapunda, probably at his grandparents’ and Aunty Annie’s house in Havelock Street, on 5 March 1921. He died on 23 February 2002, aged eighty-one years. He was the only child of Emily and Arthur Carbins. Malcolm’s parents were then most likely living in the Riverland on a property given to Arthur as an ex-servicemen returned from World War One. As a young boy Malcolm contracted rheumatic fever and was bedridden for several months. He requested drawing materials from his parents, who thought that was a good distraction as he needed something to fill in the time.

From that time Malcolm expressed an interest in becoming an artist. This meant his parents would have to pay for his education at a time of great hardship in Australia, post-World War One. Both his parents found this a difficult concept and definitely wanted him to become professional in a more reliable field of work. In an attempt to dissuade Malcolm, his father took him to the National Gallery of South Australia (NGSA, now AGSA) to meet the Director, Louis McCubbin, hoping he would tell Malcolm, after viewing his portfolio, that he was not talented enough to study fine arts. Instead, and fortunately for Malcolm, McCubbin told Arthur that Malcolm should be trained and recommended the School of Fine Arts in North Adelaide, which was run by Frederick Millward Grey (1899–1957). So Carbins studied under F Milward Grey’s system, which concentrated then on drawing from the antique model. During those years he cited as influences Augustus John and George Lambert.

Carbins served during World War Two as a signalman in New Guinea, with the 2nd Australian Imperial Forces, but was infected with tropical diseases, suffering from malaria and rheumatic fever. On returning from active service he studied for one more year under F Milward Grey. The small pension received from the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme (CRTS) made it possible for Malcolm to go to study at the East Sydney Technical College (ESTC). He was determined not to repeat the narrow studies he had experienced under F Milward Grey and his exposure to a broader programme in Sydney opened
his eyes to modernism in Europe. The principal was the well-known British modernist painter Frank Medworth (1892–1947). Discernible influences on his work from that time included Paul Cézanne, Georges Rouault, Pablo Picasso, Russell Drysdale, William Dobell, James Cant and Dora Chapman.

During his time of some three and half years in Sydney he worked as a newspaper cartoonist and, around 1947, travelled with Australia’s biggest circus, Wirth’s, drawing many of the clowns and circus performers. This kind of work became a mainstay of his practice there, and he first received recognition for it when he exhibited locally. He moved back to Adelaide, and by 1954–56 his painting style had gravitated towards the abstract.

Carbins held his first solo exhibition at Wentworth Galleries in Rundle Street, Adelaide, in 1961, and again achieved instant success, with the NGSA purchasing Landscape at Night. He held five solo exhibitions over the next decade, which reflected his status as a mature painter. In the 1970s the local lighthouse at Marino Rocks (built in 1962) became a favourite subject for his art, and in the 1980s he worked in more plastic, abstract forms.

The artist remains relatively obscure, even in Adelaide; however, his low profile fits the pattern for many modern artists of that era in South Australia, who were recognized in their day by being acquired by major national and state gallery collections and promoted in important survey and touring exhibitions, but through a peculiar confluence of factors their careers did not sustain momentum. By comparison, the once obscure inter-war South Australian landscape painter Horace Trennery was celebrated in 2009 through a retrospective exhibition and related publication by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Creative post-war artists have generally not received such recognition in Adelaide, with the exception of a set who were involved with the formation of the Contemporary Art Society of SA in the 1940s, and most recently the Czech migrant brothers Dusan and Voitre Marek. There is still much work to be done, to build on the the foundations laid by curators, art historians, and researchers like Jane Hylton, Elle Freak, and Dr Adam Dutkiewicz, who has produced a dozen monographs under the imprint Moon Arrow Press (2006–2021) and several publications for the RSASA since 2016.

In preparing the 2009 retrospective exhibition the prominent themes in Carbins’ mature output emerged clearly. In organizing the colour pages for the monograph titled Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths, examples of these recurring themes were laid out in proximity over mostly double-page spreads, so the viewer could see how the artist explored his various subjects. This second survey exhibition follows the themes identified in the book, and also leans on the title of the monograph, which was taken from a small work Adam found in the artist’s studio and purchased from the 2008 exhibition. The Society hopes that on this occasion a new audience will be introduced to the artist, and that people will be compelled by the attractive pricing to purchase works for their homes, offices, and collections, to help the Society to raise funds to secure its future.

Adam Dutkiewicz (RSASA Historian) & Bev Bills OAM (RSASA Director)
assisted by Doris Unger (Collections Manager)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Historical Documents vol. 2, 1873-1899

Front cover, Historical Documents of the RSASA, 1873-1899. Image: Edmund Gouldsmith, The Cathedral, Adelaide (1885)
image courtesy of Smith & Singer, Melbourne, Australia
(Public Domain)

The second volume of material pertaining to the Royal South Australian Society of Arts in the 19th century relies again on the Society’s archives and collections, and the digitised newspaper service on Trove. The document compiles the digital and actual records that have been located to date of the last 27 years of the century. This era spanned a period of relative inactivity of the Society, through competing colonial interests, drought, then economic depression. Also, during that time it was focused on administering the School of Design (later the South Australian School of Art), and founding the National Gallery of South Australia (later Art Gallery of South Australia), and it was unable to exhibit in its own rooms, due to lack of space. The Society was ultimately reinvigorated under the pro-term Presidency of Harry Pelling Gill in 1892, followed by the Chief Justice and Deputy Governor, Sir Samuel Way.

The Society is always interested to receive original copies of Reports, catalogues, early volumes of its journal Kalori, images of paintings and any other material relating to the the early years of the Society (then known as the South Australian Society of Arts) and its artists.

The articles include “Early Colonial Art and Artists” (1898), written by the Society’s first historian, Mary A Overbury and a fin-de-siécle review of art in the colony “Some South Australian Artists, Past and Present” (1899) published in the Adelaide Observer. There are also “The Cyclist and the Artist” by Alfred Scott Broad (Evening Journal) and a review of an exhibition by SA artists in London in 1898. Artists’ profiles include Thomas W Seyers (with report on lecture); Ernest Decimus Stocks (from GE Loyau); Henry James Johnstone; James Menpes & Son, the young Mortimer; Carl August Leberecht Saupé; Louis Tannert; the Schools of Art and the School of Design; Rosa Fiveash; Edmund Gouldsmith; Ernest William Christmas; and the Adelaide Art Circle, a group of a dozen artists and administrators who became crucial to the rehabilitation of the Society in the 1890s leading up to the building of its new rooms and current gallery in 1907.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Re Collection

Cover of Re Collection catalogue, History Festival 2022.
A working document for the final exhibition selection.

Over the last few years, as an extension of my projects as RSASA Historian, I have worked with the Collections Manager, Doris Unger, who has been maintaining the RSASA Collection, accessioning donations and revising what’s been done in previous decades, and adding information into the Collection’s database. I recalled things I saw in boxes or found while digging in the Archives that needed to be incorporated into the collection of artworks, and most of this has been done over the last year. With so much material being recovered, and new works coming into the RSASA Collection at a steady pace, it occurred to the Director, Bev Bills OAM, that History Month would provide a perfect opportunity to showcase this part of the Society’s activities to the public.

The last comprehensive showing of its Collection material only was in 2015, when 80 works were shown in Unwrapped: The RSASA Collection; and prior to that a smaller display in Selected Works from the Society’s Collection, in 2006. Before that a number of works and documents were displayed to celebrate the 140th anniversary in 1996, as part of a broader exhibition with borrowed works. The 2016 exhibition Proud to be 160  featured about three dozen works from the RSASA Collection among works from members, and private and museum collections. Earlier in 2022 the Society presented a second solo exhibition of the Malcolm Carbins’ works it holds, and from time to time supplements other exhibitions with more tightly focused presentations, such as for Life drawing (next year is the 100th anniversary of our Sketch Club).

In the previous few History Festivals we have presented an exhibition on Doreen and John Goodchild, an artistic couple who were very active in Adelaide from the 1920s, and especially attached to the RSASA as John was President 1937– 40. That exhibition was held in 2019; 2020’s was cancelled due to Covid and presented last year as Trailblazers, an exhibition on pioneers and artists of the first 20 years or so in the colony’s history. Associated with that exhibition, and largely because of the extra time leading up to its eventual presentation, the Society published Early Settler Artists of South Australia, 1836  –1856. These projects added information to the History Project that resulted in two volumes of A Visual History, published in 2016/2018.

So, there have been several historical exhibitions showing aspects of the Society’s collection over the last two decades, since the Society’s rooms were first refurbished at the beginning of the century. The focus on this exhibition has been to show some of the best of the Collection, and some of the newer material that has come in but not been seen yet. There has also developed a strong theme in the Collection of portraits of artists in paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculpture. This emerging theme is presented as an exhibition within an exhibition, as a means to introduce these artists to the members and public, as many of them have become obscured or are not familiar to modern viewers.

As I worked on the catalogue over a period of months, it enabled me to refine what images should be presented. The final outcome depended on a visual inspection after work was unpacked, and repairs or remounting or reframing were made as required, as works long packaged to protect them in storage were able to be better assessed and photographed. Some of them had not been accessioned. Finally, the hang, too, informed the ultimate selection in terms of the curation of the exhibition, and it amounted to about 1/2 of the work in the catalogue, which is estimated to be around 1/2 of the total material held.

Of particular note are the conté and photographic portraits of artists from the 1960s made by the then editor of Kalori, Betty Jew, and a series of strong photographic portraits of key modern artists by Peter Medlen. There are several large paintings that won various prizes at the Society from the 1920s to the 1970s. There are a few photographs from the RSASA Archives, too, which have not been framed but have been presented in reproduction on walls added in to the gallery. These reproductions show works that won prizes in the 19th century, some work that was not suitable to show at present or had not yet been repaired or framed, or due to constrictions of space.

It was hoped the selection offered a glimpse at the range of media, in both 2D and 3D, and the quality contained within the broader Collection, and informed and provided interest and pleasure to members and gallery visitors.

Cover, Malcolm Carbins: Silent Depths exhibition catalogue
Image: Macolm Carbins, Take Two (1961)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Early Settler Artists of South Australia, 1836-1856

Cover image: after William LIGHT, A view of the country and of the temporary erections near the site for the proposed town of
Adelaide c.1837
SLSA, B-10079 (Public Domain)

Early Settler Artists of South Australia 1836-1856 is a spin-off research project from the Trailblazers exhibition, a collaboration between the RSASA and the Pioneers’ Association of South Australia, mounted for History Festival 2021. Work for this document was undertaken by Adam Dutkiewicz as part of the exhibition preparations and around his work on the Historical Documents of the RSASA two-volume project, the second of which is nearing completion (at the time of this post). The first volume covered the years 1856-1872, the second 1873-c.1900.

Connections between the earliest settlers and the South Australian Society of Arts are quite easy to find. The professional or amateur artists who emerged from the early settler families produced art during the 20 years until the Society was established in 1856, but only some of them maintained memberships and continued to exhibit with it. Some of them stayed only briefly in the colony, or moved interstate to the goldfields or overseas, seeking greater opportunities.

There were a number of the founders who felt a responsibility to develop a cultural life in the new province, and visual art was a central facet of that intention, so people like George Fife Angas (whose eldest son George French Angas [1822–1886, arr. 1844] exhibited with the Society even after he left the colony in 1845–60), maintained an interest in the Society by serving on its committee.

The environment first encountered on the Adelaide Plains is hardly visible today, even in the small pockets that have been kept as conservation reserves to preserve flora and fauna. Bruce Pascoe’s recent popular book Dark Emu (first published 2014) has sparked controversy but provided an idea of what the land across the continent looked like in places while it was governed by an Indigenous regime. His text was to some extent inspired by reading Bill Gammage’s earlier book The Biggest Estate on Earth: How Aborigines made Australia (2011). The sketches and paintings, and soon the photographs, of the site of Adelaide and the extensive lands beyond the capital city of Adelaide, now enable us, to some extent, to decode what the environment looked like when those settlers arrived, and to see how they transformed it.

The artists of note and covered in some detail include: William Light, Samuel Thomas Gill, Frederick Robert Nixon, Edward Andrew Opie, John Bishop Hitchins, Mary Hindmarsh, George Milner Stephen, William Wyatt, Robert George Thomas, Frances Amelia Skipper, John Michael Skipper, Martha Berkeley, Theresa Walker, Robert Hall, George Hamilton, William Anderson Cawthorne, George Cole, and John Michael Crossland.

The document can be downloaded here: (go to the third logo button on the bottom of the page and click on).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Adelaide Festivals

Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz was a leader of the contemporary visual artists in Adelaide in the 1950s, and also worked as a stage designer, actor and producer, and was a teacher of drama. He and his wife Joan hosted monthly and New Year’s Eve parties for two decades where artists, musicians and theatre people could gather and enjoy each other’s company. In the 1950s he was a good friend of Henry Krips, composer and principal conductor South Australian Symphony Orchestra (Adelaide) from 1949 to 1972, and John Bishop, Professor of Music at the University of Adelaide from 1948 until his death in 1964. Wlad recounted that Professor Bishop first mentioned the possibility of hosting a Festival of Arts in Adelaide when the artist was working briefly as a handyman at the university in the early 1950s. Wlad said the idea circulated and many conversations had at openings, meetings of the Contemporary Art Society and in private functions, and it gathered momentum as the decade went on until Bishop found a powerful ally in the form of Sir Lloyd Dumas, managing director of The Advertiser newspaper.

Wlad suffered head injuries in a motorcycle accident in June 1956, towards the end of the Adelaide Architectural Convention Exhibition. He suffered from amnesia and lost his colour vision, and had several operations on his skull. His health declined, and he turned to the theatre once again, and with the aid of his wife and close friends, especially Brian and Nancy Claridge, he was gradually able to recover his memory. During this period he wrote plays (e.g.”Three Sundays”) and refreshed his knowledge of Stanislavski, whom he had studied at the Great Theatre in his home city of Lwow, in Poland, where he was an Assistant Director before the war.

In 1957 he started teaching the Method for the WEA, and soon a core group remained dedicated to exploring its potential, presenting a first production at Union Hall for the Adelaide University Theatre Guild of Jean Jacques Bernard’s The Unquiet Spirit, written in 1932. It was translated by John Leslie Frith and performed under the moniker of “The Dutkiewicz Studio Players” at the Union Hall in late July 1959. Production stills and his individual stage design suggests that visually the play had similarities with Wlad’s play Ode to a Park-bench, one of his productions in Hohenfels, Bavaria, for his own troupe Teatr Nowy, which toured Polish DP camps for some years after the war. Wlad and Brian Claridge were the two main players in the drama, which made quite an impression on theatre-goers.

He settled on the name “The Art Studio Players” (ASP), since they were training and rehearsing in his painting studio in Gay’s Arcade in the city. Wlad decided to produce Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths to coincide with the first Adelaide Festival. The core of the group consisted of Brian and Nancy Claridge, Terry and Jim Stapleton, Les Dayman, Anne Edmonds, Brian Claridge, Barbara West, Laurie Davies, Ann Christie and Andrew Steiner.

The Lower Depths required a fresh translation for the troupe in Adelaide. Adam Kriegel, a Polish-origin artist and violinist with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, worked with Wlad on revising the idiosyncratic patois of the Russian slums. Despite trimming, the four acts ran for three hours, with a ten-minute interval. It was epic.

It was necessary for Wlad to contribute significantly to the design of the sets. Since Wlad was playing a leading part, Ian Davidson was employed as stage manager to provide organisational back-up since the producer was performing; and he was assisted by Andrew Booth (son of Edward Stirling Booth). Ludwik Dutkiewicz designed the costumes and prepared the make-up, and played a role as well.

According to Max Harris, the production was an amazing success:

“In the deepest context of our theatrical life the dredging-up of The Lower
is probably the most important event in post-war drama … The Adelaide production had something of a freak quality … W. Dutkiewicz had years of firsthand Stanislavskian training and retains a powerful sense of his slavonic origins… and the result was a freak theatrical tour de force.”

(Nation, 12 March 1960, p. 18)

ASP went on to produce several more plays over three more years, including a production of Bernard Kops’ The Dream of Peter Mann to coincide with the 1962 Festival. ASP closed down when in initial stages of a production of Chekov’s The Seagull, scheduled for 1963. Wlad returned to the stage again, in 1967, to mount a production of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck for the Adelaide University Theatre Guild. He also acted in several television dramas for Crawford Productions in Melbourne, until the early 1970s.

Wlad was able to recover his colour vision over time and resumed painting after a few years’ hiatus, in 1960. He relocated his studio from the city to his home and held annual exhibitions there in his studio gallery for Festivals and Christmas. He also exhibited in major prize exhibitions, The Advertiser exhibitions, held over 40 solo and participated in over 100 group exhibitions when he was alive, as well as remaining an active member of the CASSA and RSASA (local art societies). He was a member of the City Decoration and Illumination Committee for the Adelaide Festival from its inception. He was commissioned to do a series of sculptures for the median strip of King William Street for the 1966 and 1968 Festivals.

There are a number of drawings of ideas for these designs in the Dutkiewicz Archive in the State Library of South Australia. Some of these were realized: the 1966 design played with the idea of it being the fourth festival of arts, whereas the 1968 design harked back to the mobile form he produced for the 6AAC Exhibition (see page here).

Wlad’s posthumous portrait of Professor Bishop (c.1966-67) now resides in the Adelaide Festival collection, and hangs in the boardroom.


Top group – 1) Wlad Dutkiewicz & Brian Claridge, The Unquiet Spirit, 1959; 2) Wlad as the landlord in The Lower Depths (1960); 3) Programme, The Lower Depths; 4) Barbara West, Roots, 1961 (Photos by Ian Davidson).

Bottom group – 1) Wlad’s design for Street sculptures, Adelaide Festival 1966; 2) Wlad’s design for Street sculptures, Adelaide Festival 1968; Sculpture in situ (photo by KC Duffield, SLSA); 4) Wlad with the Prototype for the 1968 design (photocopy of printed photograph courtesy of The News).

Further reading:–method–theatre-in-1950s

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Path to Salt

A photographic essay on the Cheetham Salt Fields, Dry Creek, South Australia

by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz

Cover, The Path to Salt

The salt pans at Dry Creek, north of Adelaide, were a long-held fascination for the author. They were removed for housing and to create the Adelaide International Bird Sanctuary National Park – Winaityinaityi Pangkara, proclaimed in October 2016.

On 1st August 2012 Adam went on a field trip with a photographer friend, Gary Sauer-Thompson, to shoot the area. The result is a series that form the photographic essay in this book, and the photographs are accompanied by a related autobiographical short story penned in 1987.

The series was initially selected to 15 images. A large format print of the title work won the Photography section of the Solar Art Prize in the Caring for the Planet exhibition, 2019. It was the first time Adam had edited and printed that image.

The book can be previewed and purchased here:

Two works from the series, including the winning print, are being shown at Rising Sun Inn at Kensington in Adelaide’s eastern suburbs, leading up until Christmas 2020.

Salt pans, Gouge – #2695

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

WAV Publications

Word And Visions magazine ran for 17 issues in the early-mid 1980s. It was described as an “arts showcase”, featuring mostly writers and visual artists from Adelaide initially, then a wider national and international contributor list as the magazine evolved. The magazine was later referred to as WAV and that was used as the moniker for the small press, that extended into publishing books of poetry and short stories by mostly South Australian writers.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Historical Documents of the RSASA 1856-72

The early documents of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts are scant on the ground. Some exist in their archives in material form but a number no longer have material existence, and others are to be found in digital form, but only as poor quality photocopies of originals located at the Art Gallery of South Australia and State Library of South Australia.

With the advent of the digitised newspaper service on Trove, however, it has been possible to locate numerous reports of Annual General Meetings, Special Meetings, transcripts of Lectures, Lists of Exhibition Prizes and Judges’ Reports, and newspaper reviews of the earliest exhibitions, which offer quite detailed reports about the overall composition and quality of the early Annual Exhibitions and some individual works. Some of the prize-winning paintings from the earliest exhibitions have now been located.

The document compiles the digital and actual records that have been located to date of the first fifteen years, including some images of prize-winning pictures. This era predated the Society’s subsequent fall into decline for a couple of decades, through competing colonial interests, drought, then economic depression. Also, during that time it was focused on administering the School of Design (later the South Australian School of Art), and founding the National Gallery of South Australia (later Art Gallery of South Australia), and it was unable to exhibit in its own rooms, due to lack of space. The Society was ultimately reinvigorated under the pro-term Presidency of Harry Pelling Gill in 1892, followed by the Chief Justice and Deputy Governor, Sir Samuel Way.

The Society is always interested to receive original copies of Reports, catalogues, early volumes of its journal Kalori, images of paintings and any other material relating to the the early years of the Society (then known as the South Australian Society of Arts) and its artists.

Front cover image: Walter Scott-Barry: 1893 Exhibition, the South Australian Society of Arts’ rooms — No. 1
1893 Adelaide, albumen print on paper mounted on card, 26.9 x 36.7 cm (sheet)
RSASA Archives

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Modern Art in South Australia 1-10

The series Modern Art in South Australia concluded with the recent publication of Adelaide Art Photographers c.1970-2000, which was launched with an accompanying exhibition just before lockdown for the Covid-19 pandemic in Adelaide.

The book and copies of other books in the series (that have not sold out) are available from the Royal SA Society of Arts and Pepper Street Gallery shop.

Some books in the series are also available from the Art Gallery of South Australia bookshop – you can always order titles there too.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment