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Inaugural lecture Mr Prof R.D.P. Lansdown: The Artist as Itinerant: Ian Fairweather, 1891-1974

When:Tu 12-03-2019 16:15 - 17:00
Where:Aula Academy Building, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

The artist Ian Fairweather, who was born in 1891 and died in 1974, could be regarded as Scottish, since he lived his first ten years there; or English, since he studied at the Slade School of Art at the University of London; or Australian, since he lived there for the last twenty years of his life. But he spent long periods of his life on the move, in Norway, Canada, China, Indonesia, and The Philippines — often in conditions of monastic poverty, isolation, and dedication.

His restlessness came to head in 1952 when as a sixty year-old he set sail from Darwin in a hand-made raft and landed at the Indonesian island of Roti two weeks later, from whence he was repatriated to England, where he worked as an agricultural labourer to repay the government. His talent had been recognized by some — indeed he exhibited alongside Walter Sickert in London in 1942 — but there was something about his work that failed to satisfy him until he built a thatched hut on Bribie Island near Brisbane in 1953 and swapped painting what was in front of him for painting what he remembered of his travels, in a style at last completely his own.

The case is typical of a certain kind of artist: a kind which will never cease to astonish anyone who values the arts at all. And so his story seems worth re-telling long after his death and far away from the countries in which he is best known.

More information

  • Inaugural lecture: Mr Prof R.D.P. Lansdown
  • Title: The Artist as Itinerant: Ian Fairweather, 1891-1974
  • Chair: Modern English Literature and Culture
  • Faculty: Arts
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