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1939–59

Images, left to right: Clem and Beryl Whiteley with baby Brett 1939; Letter to Father Christmas c1946; Brett Whiteley at Lintas Advertising Agency c1956, Sydney

1939

7 April

Born Sydney, Australia. Grew up at 18 Lucretia Avenue, Longueville.

1946

Won first art competition: annual RSPCA exhibition at Farmer’s Blaxland Gallery for The driver sits in the shade but what about the horse?

1948

Sent to boarding school at Scots College, Bathurst.

1954

Saw Lloyd Rees’s European paintings exhibition at Macquarie Galleries, Sydney. Briefly attended Scots College, Sydney 1954-55.

1956

Awarded first prize, Young Painters’ Section, Bathurst Show, New South Wales. Left school mid-year and worked in Sydney for Lintas Advertising Agency in the layout and commercial art department. His mother Beryl Whiteley left Australia for London.

Met Wendy Julius, who was attending the National Art School East Sydney, where Whiteley and Michael Johnson occasionally drew at the life-drawing class.

Between 1956 and 1959: Sometimes attended sketch clubs such as John Santry’s sketch club (also frequented by Lloyd Rees) on Thursday nights. Used the glasshouse at his home in Longueville as a studio. Sporadically attended life drawing at Julian Ashton Art School. Painted on weekends around Bathurst, Sofala, Hill End and the south coast of NSW. Painted at Sydney Soup Kitchen and night refuge.

1959

Encouraged by Australian artist William Pidgeon, left Lintas in August to paint works for the Italian scholarship. In November awarded Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship for 1960, judged by Sir Russell Drysdale at the Art Gallery of NSW. Whiteley submitted four paintings: Abstract Autumn, Dixon Street, July and Around Bathurst – the painting for which he was awarded the scholarship.