David Fairbairn was born in Zambia in 1949 and studied art in England between 1969 and 1977 at Wimbledon and Central School of Art and Design, the West Surrey College of Art and Design and the Royal Academy Schools, London. He has travelled extensively throughout Europe, Africa and the USA, and settled in Australia in 1981. Fairbairn has exhibited his work in group and solo exhibitions since 1974 and has won numerous art prizes, including the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize in 2002, and has been a regular finalist in Dobell Prize exhibitions since 1996.
A survey exhibition and accompanying publication – Lineage: David Fairbairn selected portraits 1998–2010 – was organised by Campbelltown Arts Centre in 2011 and toured regional New South Wales until early 2012 – this drawing was included in that exhibition. Fairbairn lives and works at Wedderburn in south-west Sydney.
‘Large head C.S. No. 1’ is from a large series of drawings made in 2006/7. The subject of the drawing was Clive Standbridge; '....originally a psychiatric nurse at Gladesville Hospital, whose subsequent life was difficult ... who ended up working as a life model at the National Art School. He proved to be an extraordinary model (my favourite!) & had quite an aura about him which ultimately compelled me to work with him. Unfortunately during the two years he worked with me he developed inoperable pancreatic cancer but insisted on working with me to the end (June 2007). That particular pose in ‘Large head C.S. No. 1’ .... was the result of Clive being unable to sit up during the sessions owing to the extreme pain he was in. Many of the works ended up being about the process of dying & the journey we both took together through the weekly ritual of the drawing sessions' (email from artist to Art Gallery of New South Wales 22.09.2012).
acrylic, gouache, pastel and charcoal on paper
167.6 x 200.5 cm image/sheet; 184.7 cm x 218.7 x 6.3 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., white pastel "Fairbairn ‘07".
Gift of the artist, donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program 2012
Not on display
© David Fairbairn
Shown in 5 exhibitions
David Fairbairn, large portraits, Stella Downer, 28 Aug 2007–15 Sep 2007
Dobell Prize for Drawing 2008, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Sep 2008–09 Nov 2008
Winter collection, James Makin Gallery, Collingwood, 18 Jun 2009–18 Jul 2009
Lineage: David Fairbairn selected portraits 1999-2010:
Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 Years of the Dobell Drawing Prize:
- Grafton Regional Gallery 15 Feb 2013–24 Mar 2013
- Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Booragul 30 Mar 2013–05 May 2013
- Orange Regional Gallery, Australia 05 Jul 2013–18 Aug 2013
- National Art School, Sydney 29 Aug 2013–06 Oct 2013
- Tweed River Regional Art Gallery 18 Oct 2013–24 Nov 2013
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 11 Apr 2014–18 May 2014
Referenced in 2 publications
Helen Campbell, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Other works acquired from the Dobell Prize for Drawing’ compiled, pg. 62-72, Sydney, 2012, 65 (colour illus.), 77.
James Makin Gallery (Editor), James Makin Gallery, Collingwood, 2009, 17 (colour illus.).