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for this document was undertaken by Adam Dutkiewicz as part of the exhibition preparations and around his work on the Historical Documents of the RSASA two-volume project, the second of which is nearing completion. 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.
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 Depths 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).
A photographic essay on the Cheetham Salt Fields, Dry Creek, South Australia
by Adam Jan Dutkiewicz
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.
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.
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.
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.
Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz, Bush, 1951 Adelaide, oil on canvas. Photograph by Graeme Hastwell.
Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz – MODERNIST QUARTET!
Charles Darwin didn’t operate with “spirituality” or the “Mind” – he left this for philosophy. Freud, in his psychoanalysis, studied the artist and his relation to fantasy. Van Gogh and Chagall were labelled as mad, and accused by critics of not being able to draw. All four were considered mad. In fact, the first two dealt with “Science fiction”, the second [two] “Abstraction”.
Human beings have always needed belief systems and icons. This brings out a structure in life for the simple human mind. Art serves precisely the same purpose. Every visual form brought into reality by an artist can be named according to a style. I couldn’t be attracted to abstraction unless I knew it was possible for human beings to create new things. My knowledge of Darwin, who put equal value on all life, provided the foundation for a shift in perception from human-centred consciousness.
Even the question of life on other planets is of interest to the imagination of artists. In today’s education system more visual conceptions are introduced, from simple geometry to computers, telescopes and microscopes. There is more emphasis on the visual side of culture in everyday life. If the complexity of eternity is camouflaged by religious concepts of all kinds, then symbolism is central to these representations.
To me, in my student days, to accept the story in the Bible of Moses’ vision of the burning bush was a symbol of God. This form of abstraction, in terms of thinking, took me ages to portray in my painting. It is difficult for a materialist to understand the concept of fire in someone’s vision, the connection of inner and outer. Perhaps Freud was able to explain this better.
Moses – seeing god as a cloud of fire, to lead [people] out of the desert – Darwin, Freud, Van Gogh, Chagall – in a kind of “Lucidum Intervale” … to the Promised Land.
To emphasise the circumstances of the science-arts axis in the 19th century, every one of them was “new” or engendered in that era. But in the 20th century the world became conceited, vast and full of motion. The world rushes on. Man went to the moon and returned. Today the sky, even space is not empty.
This quartet of individuals lived with great vision in a time of darkness. But they and many others opened up the darkness to a new dawn. Darwin didn’t talk of “mankind” but “organism”. Only the artists showed us by imagining those creatures that man is not made of glass. So “Heaven will come down to earth”.
Did they sacrifice all their knowledge and experience for us? I have no idea. All I know is that within the four walls of my life they were a window for me. For me, this quartet initiated humanism and introduced the change from “Romanticism”. They were able to transcend the socially imposed limits to reach acute knowledge and forms or ideas which cannot be compared with earlier creations of the 19th century. [This is a beautiful time].
The two scientists did not know the two artists, but all their actions and creativity were strongly criticised in the [early 20th] century. Why did I sculpt a portrait of Darwin or paint a picture “For Stravinsky”? To compare music and the abundance in our visual world I could find an abundance of Polish adjectives. The pluralistic culture of the world will continue. The size of a person’s vocabulary and the degree of comprehension does nor matter.
Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz Kalori, vol. 30, no. 2 (Winter 1992) np.
(NB – slight edits to the original text by Adam in square brackets)
Songs from Cold Mountain
307 Poems by Chinese poet Han Shan (8-9th C)
In standard Chinese and English, trans. by Span Hanna
Introduction by the translator, with Pronunciation Guide
Appendices and Bibliography
352 pp, standard paperback (230 x 150 mm)
No one knows who Han Shan was. The name means “Cold Mountain”, after
the place where he lived, under a crag in the mountains of Zhejiang Province,
near the town of Tiantai. He was a recluse, avoiding visitors (as he frequently
tells us in his poems), but from time to time visiting the large monastery of
Guoqing Si (Kuo-ch’ing Ssu) at Tiantai, where he was befriended by two
monks, Feng Gan (Feng Kan) and Shi De (Shih Te). Legend has it that he
scrawled his poems on random surfaces: rocks, trees, the walls of houses.
Someone collected them, and the body of work has been retained. His life is
tentatively (but convincingly) dated around 720 – 810 CE.
In January 1991 Span Hanna was travelling in eastern China, and noticed
there was a Han Shan Temple nearby. He caught a bus and while in the area
found a bookshop where he bought some books, among them a complete
collection of Han Shan’s poems. It was a 1988 reprint by Guanghua Temple
(Putian, Fujian Province) of an older edition dated c.1932.
The book went home with him, and in June 2014 he decided to read it
formally, from beginning to end, and attempt to translate it, partly a project
to keep his Chinese skills alive, and partly also to share the work with a few
close friends who could not read Chinese but had some appreciation and
understanding of Chinese poetry and philosophy. This volume is a result of
Depiction of Han Shan Te’-Ch’ing, 1600
In One Small Measure Judith Brooks, an artist herself and Doreen Goodchild’s daughter, presents a lively account of her mother’s life as an artist in Adelaide and beyond, from the years immediately after World War One until the last years of the 20th century.
The monograph is presented to coincide with a retrospective of the art of her parents, Doreen and John Goodchild, for History Month at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts Gallery in Adelaide in 21 April – 12 May 2019. John Goodchild was President of the Society 1937– 40 and Doreen was the inaugural Secretary of the Society’s Sketch Club, founded in 1923.
Judith Brooks was born in 1936 in Adelaide. She grew up observing their lives as artists and later in life became an artist herself, exhibiting regularly in venues such as Kensington Gallery. She wrote a self-published book on her father after his death, in the early 1980s, with much of the research compiled by her mother, the subject of this book.
The monograph is published by the Royal SA Society of Arts.
Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz, Design for Adelaide Festival 1968
2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the Polish-born artist Wladyslaw Dutkiewicz’s birth. A commemorative exhibition of 40 works was mounted at Murray Bridge Regional Gallery in May-June 2018. Although a large exhibition, it was thought more could be shown – hence a second exhibition of another forty works – large, medium and small paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculpture – was mounted at the Royal SA Society of Arts Gallery in Adelaide.
The exhibition was opened by Christine Garnaut, Associate Professor, Planning and Architectural History and Director, Architecture Museum, School of Art, Architecture and Design at University of South Australia on Sunday 20 January 2019 at 2 pm.
There was also a book launch by arts writer Samela Harris of Adam Dutkiewicz’s latest monograph on the Adelaide sculptor Andrew Steiner OAM, Past President and Honorary Life Member of the Society. Steiner was a long-time friend of Wlad’s, getting to know him through his amateur theatrical group The Art Studio Players. Steiner acted in Wlad’s second production, Maxim Gorky’s The Lower Depths, presented as a fringe production for the inaugural Adelaide Festival in 1960. Samela’s father, Max Harris, described it as a “theatrical tour de force”.
Adam also made a limited edition of his biography of his father available as a paperback for the first time throughout the exhibition. It is available from the Society and the publisher for $60 plus postage and handling.
2019 also marked the 20th anniversary of the artist’s passing.