Rosalie Gascoigne Plain Air
One of the greatest Australasian artists of the 20th century, Rosalie Gascoigne (1917–1999) spent the first 23 years of her life in New Zealand, before moving to Canberra. Living on the outskirts of that city, Gascoigne created art that was a song – or an ‘air’ in the Shakespearean sense – in praise of the infinite Australian plains. Gascoigne’s artwork-made of road signs, roofing iron and other cast-off materials-is also a hymn to experience and memory.
Rosalie Gascoigne Plain Air was published to coincide with the major survey exhibition of Gascoigne’s work at City Gallery, Wellington that opened on 21 Feb 2004 as part of the International Festival of the Arts.
Rosalie Gascoigne Plain Air, and the exhibition it accompanies, includes artworks which reflect upon the artist’s early experiences of the New Zealand hill-country and coast, and which pay homage to one of her greatest influences, Colin McCahon.
With an introduction by City Gallery director, Paula Savage, this publication includes a major essay by Gregory O’Brien which explores Gascoigne’s work in terms of the ‘vernacular’. Using everyday materials and the common language of commercial signage, her artworks are not only formally rigorous, but also beguiling, affectionate and moving.
Former director of the Art Gallery of South Australia, Daniel Thomas contributes an essay about the origins of Gascoigne’s work in the Canberra landscape and ‘her feeling for the swoop and soar of driving through peculiarly Australian long-distance rolling landscapes’.
Including a personal response from one of New Zealand's most important novelists, Barbara Anderson, to Rosalie Gascoigne’s work and career which, as was the case also for Anderson, only began when she was in her late fifties.
Alongside numerous black and white illustrations and a series of previously unpublished portraits of Rosalie Gascoigne by Marti Friedlander, Rosalie Gascoigne Plain Air includes colour reproductions of over thirty artworks.