Artist biography

Ian Fairweather 1891-1974

Australian painter, born at Bridge of Allan, Scotland. Began to study Chinese while in a prisoner-of-war camp in World War I. On release, studied drawing at the Academy in The Hague, then forestry at Oxford 1919-20; gave this up in order to study at the Slade School 1920-3. Lived for two years on an island off the Canadian coast, afterwards in China and the Dutch East Indies. Began painting seriously again in Bali 1933. Visited Melbourne, Australia, in 1934 and became associated with the Melbourne Contemporary Group established by William Frater, George Bell, Arnold Shore and others, then left again for the Philippines and China. First one-man exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London, 1935. Returned to Australia in 1938 and, after service in the British Army in India in World War II and periods in Melbourne, Darwin and Cairns, settled on Bribie Island off the coast of Queensland, living as a recluse in a grass hut. Sailed alone by raft from Darwin to Tumor in 1952. His later paintings are tapestry-like, with highly abstracted figures influenced by School of Paris painting, Chinese calligraphy and batik designs. Died in Brisbane.

Published in:
Ronald Alley, Catalogue of the Tate Gallery's Collection of Modern Art other than Works by British Artists, Tate Gallery and Sotheby Parke-Bernet, London 1981, pp.212-13