painter and cartoonist, was born in Enfield, England on 18 November 1901. She came to Australia the following year with her mother and architect father. As a child, she studied ballet. In 1920 she was encouraged by her family and friends to attend drawing classes with John Shirlow who introduced her, through reproductions, to Impressionism and to Post-Impressionists such as Gauguin and Matisse.
An only child of a shy and self-conscious disposition, Craig was enrolled at the Melbourne National Gallery School in 1924-31. She felt overwhelmed by the older students but enjoyed the contact with people of similar interests. For a period of several months, she also had private lessons with George Bell .
Sybil Craig held her first solo show at the Athenaeum Gallery in 1932. Jessie Mackintosh , her friend at the Gallery School, encouraged her to exhibit with the Women Painters and Sculptors from 1933. As well, she was a foundation member of the New Melbourne Art Club. Craig enjoyed experimenting in her work and, influenced by George Bell, developed her interest in colour, pattern and simplicity. In 1933 she discovered the English artist Matthew Smith’s paintings, which utilised freedom of colour and line, at the 'Contemporary British Art Exhibition’ organised by Alleyne Zander . In 1935 she studied design and printmaking with Robert Timmings at the Working Man’s College (now RMIT). At the 1939 Herald Exhibition of French and British Contemporary Art, she rediscovered the work of Matisse.
During the war years Craig exhibited with the Twenty Melbourne Painters and attended meetings of the Women Painters’ National Service Group which organised activities and fund-raising for the war effort. In 1945 she was approached by the Australian War Memorial to accept the appointment of official war artist. With her parents’ encouragement she accepted, becoming the first woman to paint women working in the munitions’ factories.
She continued to work in Melbourne after the war. Her oil on paper Opening of the Women Painters Exhibition by Alan McCulloch c.1947 was auctioned by Deutscher Menzies on 22 November 1998 (cat.33). She spent the 1950s at the Victorian Artists’ Society, where Ian Bow helped her to incorporate rhythm into her design work. From the late 1950s she began to abandon oil painting, being committed to taking care of her parents.
In her work Craig was attracted to many changing ideas and continued to explore line, rhythm, colour, simplicity and design. She is remembered for her lively paintings filled with colour and light. Craig died in a nursing home in Melbourne on 14 September 1989. A large number of her works are in NGA, NGV and AWM.
Writers: Wilkins, Lola
Victorian Artists' Society exhibition, Melbourne
Twenty Melbourne Painters,
New Melbourne Art Club, Melbourne
Women Painters and Sculptors, Melbourne
Look, Look Again (20 October 2011 - 15 December 2012), Place Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, University of Western Australia, Perth. Exhibition showcasing highlights from the Cruthers Collection of Women’s Art (CCWA), which was gifted to the University of Western Australia in 2007. A companion publication titled 'Into the Light’ that documented the history and key works of the CCWA was released to coincide with the exhibition, which also featured a symposium – 'Are we there yet?’ – discussing women’s participation in art and art history and the future of feminism in the arts.
Modern Australian Women: paintings and prints 1925-1945 (24 November 2000 - 25 February 2001), Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide,
Women and Art (4 August 1995 - 5 August 1995), Place Gallery, Paddington, NSW
Auction preview for Dalia Stanley Auctioneers, auction held 6 August 1995
National Women's Art Exhibition, A l'hombre des jeunes filles et des fleurs: In the shadow of young girls and flowers
Date10 March 1995 - 28 May 1995, Benalla Art Gallery, Vic.
A Century of Australian Women's Art (1880s-1990s) March 1995PlaceAngeloro Fine Art Galleries, Artarmon, NSW.
Women hold up half the sky (March 1995 - April 1995), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, opened by the Hon. Dr Carmen Lawrence. Heritage book launched at the same time. The touring exhibition, Sydney by Design, formed one section of this exhibition.
Women Artists' Portraits and Self-portraits (March 1995), State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
In the Company of Women: 100 years of Australian women's art from the Cruthers collection (February 1995 - 13 March 1995), PICA (Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts), WA, opened by Dr Liz Constable MLA, Member for Floreat, 15 February 1995
Through Women's Eyes (30 July 1994 - 30 June 1995), Australian War Memorial, Canberra.
Sybil Craig (1982), Jim Alexander Gallery, Melbourne.
Sybil Craig: Oil Paintings: 1926-1970 (1978), Important Women Artists [Gallery], Melbourne.
Herald outdoor art show (1953), Treasury Gardens, Melbourne.
Solo Exhibition (1932), Athenaeum Gallery, Melbourne.
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