Film: 1551

Art + Architecture | 1960 | Sound | Colour

Synopsis:

The art and artists of Australia in the 1970's.

Opening still film shots of different Australian landscapes; grassland and fields with trees, a hazy view of a mountain range, a stretch of desert with hill and sky in background, view from the top of a hill of an empty road, winding down with trees on either side and a shot of the sea with cliffs curving out into the horizon. Film of two parts of a city; of business/office blocks with the sea in foreground, and looking down on a view of offices in the background and tree lined roads in foreground, some moving and parked cars and a man on a bicycle are visible. Cut to a shot of several people walking around, and down the stairs of, a room in an art gallery. Move to a panned shot of two small landscape paintings by 'English trained' James Conrad Martins hanging on a wall, full frontal shot of one of them. Cut to a full- shot of a painting of gum trees, a 'European representation', close-up pan, from bottom to top, of one gum trees. Cut to a black and white caricature sketch by T.S.Gill, depicting an Australian street scene from the gold rush era of the 1850's, pan from left to right of picture. Still shots of four paintings or drawings showing Australian men at work and play. One showing three men chopping logs, the other three showing men on or with horses. Narrative information on the artists Arthur Streaten(?), Tom Roberts, Fred McCullan and the young Englishman Charles Conder(?), who lived in the open air painting landscapes. This is played over images of two women, in white dresses and hats, as they look at their paintings on a gallery wall. Full shot, zooming in slowly, on (Sir)Arthur Streaten's painting The Purple Noon's Transparent Light. Three other shots of various landscape paintings including, Red Gold by Hans Heysen(?) of South Australia, long-shot and close-up panning. Close-up shot, panning out, of a painting of a mountain range by the same artist. Cut to a panned shot, from left to right, of Hans Heysen's studio, paintings propped up against wall and on cupboards. The camera pans round to reveal the artist, 'now over 80', with bald head, wisps of white hair at the back and sides, wearing brown glasses, standing at his easel painting.

Close-up of Heysen applying paint to canvas with brush. The painting, of barren trees with a mountain in the background, is in its early stages. Cut to a head and shoulders shot of the painter mixing paint on his palette, with a finished painting visible in the background. More of these shots are repeated while the artist discusses his work and Australian landscape painting in general. Moves on to a full size, then close-up shot, of a Sydney Nolan painting of Ned Kelly, with his homemade suit of armour ('new Australian legends'). Full and close-up shots of two Russel Driesdale(?) landscape paintings. One of a twisted tree and rocks, the other of a woman standing in the foreground, with a wagon(?) and desert in the background. Cut to film of Driesdale(?) walking on desert land between two barren trees in the midground, there are trees in the background and a fallen tree in the foreground. As he walks towards the camera he discusses his work. Close-up of the artist as he picks a stone up from the desert floor. Driesdale is balding with some brown hair at the back and sides, brown glasses and checked shirt. He is aged about 55. Four more different shots of the artist walking in the landscape and of the scenery.

Various shots of five different landscape paintings, more abstract in style. Long-shot of a painting by Charles Bush; a city scape. Cut to several shots of Bush at work in his studio, he is standing at his easel with pots of paint-brushes on various tables and sketches all around him. Close-up of him mixing paint on a palette, then applying to canvas with a square piece of cardboard. Over these images the artist discusses his work and influences; Bush is about 50 with dark receding hair and brown moustache, he is wearing a shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a cravat. Cut to a short, panned shot of some scaffolding on a building site with a city-scape in the background, cut to a similar shot but of outback landscape. Two long-shots of landscape scenes, one with a white bridge at the foot of a green hill, the other of swamp/grasslands with industrial plant in the background. Over these last scenes the narrator concludes, adding that the landscape is a constant challenge to the artist.
Throughout the film, except when the three featured artists are speaking, there is a narrative explanation of the paintings shown and of the history of Australian landscape painting. Occasional musical accompaniment.


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