Karri forest a feature in artist’s biography

Tari JeffersManjimup-Bridgetown Times
Gwen Phillips with her biography on Pemberton artist Helen Grey-Smith.
Camera IconGwen Phillips with her biography on Pemberton artist Helen Grey-Smith. Credit: Gwen Phillips with her biography on Pemberton artist Helen Grey-Smith. Picture supplied, supplied

The work of a Pemberton artist has been bound together in a biography written by a former Pemberton resident.

Helen Grey-Smith was born in India in 1916 and died in Pemberton in September 2009, just a week after an exhibition of her work at the Pemberton Sports Club.

Former art teacher Gwen Phillips has released a book about Grey-Smith’s life, based on a series of recorded interviews she had done with the artist in the 1990s.

“When I worked as an art teacher at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, I saw there was a lot about her husband, Guy Grey-Smith, but not much about Helen,” she said.

“Later on when I had returned, I decided to put my thesis together as a book, with examples of her work.”

The biography features artwork from throughout Grey-Smith’s professional life, including her time in Pemberton.

“She really responded well to the karri forests, she was fascinated,” Ms Phillips said.

“It’s difficult to paint the karri forests realistically and in abstract works.

“She thought the region had the most marvellous forests, which comes across in her work.”

In her interviews with Grey-Smith, Ms Phillips learned one of the reasons the artist loved the region was the cool climate and lushness which reminded her of her childhood in England.

The book, available at Pemberton Fine Woodcraft Gallery and the Pemberton Newsagency, heavily features Grey-Smith’s work from her time in Pemberton, including Chinese ink paintings and collage.

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