Rachel Ellis is highly regarded for the subtle geometry of her drawings of urban subjects – interiors, inner city backyards and rooftops.
For the artist 'Evensong' is 'a prayer to the author of light and nature' as experienced in the suburban everyday. Intensely personal, the setting for this drawing is the view to neighbours' houses on Durham and Havannah Streets, Bathurst, over the side fence of her house. However the real focus of attention is the weathered fence and two trees, one lopped (or amputated) to a tall stump, the other reaching upwards, feather-like, into the bright afterglow of late afternoon light.
Light to dense layers of charcoal worked well into the grain of heavy drawing paper, have created a bold chiaroscuro and a rich tactile graphic surface. The drawings of Lloyd Rees and Seurat come to mind, but also something of the spirit of Samuel Palmer and Frederick Griggs.
Rachel Ellis, a committed Christian, won the Blake Prize in 1996 with a powerful drawing of the woman wiping her tears from the feet of Jesus. 'Evensong' clearly has spiritual undertones - the slender feathered tree at the centre of the composition evokes the Christian cross and the ascension of Christ, the lopped tree arching towards it, one of the robbers' crosses as part of the Crucifixion.
charcoal on paper
111.0 x 99.0 cm sheet; 124.7 x 112.2 x 6.0 cm
Thea Proctor Memorial Fund 2012
Not on display
© Rachel Ellis
Dobell Prize for Drawing (discontinued)
Where the work was made
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Dobell Prize for Drawing (2011), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Dec 2011–05 Feb 2012
Rachel Ellis: paintings & drawings, King Street Gallery on William, Darlinghurst, 07 Feb 2012–03 Mar 2012
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, Orange 05 Jul 2013–18 Aug 2013
- National Art School, Darlinghurst 29 Aug 2013–06 Oct 2013
- Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah 18 Oct 2013–24 Nov 2013
- Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra 11 Apr 2014–18 May 2014
Referenced in 3 publications
Christopher Allen, The Australian, ‘Nuanced works draw on the disciplined imagination’, pg. 13, Canberra, 19 Dec 2011, 13.
Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-14, Sydney, 2012, 11, 65 (illus.), 79.
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Apr 2012, 21 (illus.).