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Charles Meere Australian beach pattern 1940

Charles Meere

Australia 1890–1961
Meere was one of a group of Sydney artists who took a modern take on classical artistic traditions as a way of portraying national life in the period between the First and Second World Wars.

Born in London, Meere trained as a mural artist at the Royal College of Art, where he was influenced by the ideas of William Morris on craftsmanship and the role of the designer. Moving to Australia, he worked as a commercial artist and as a cartographer and illustrator for newspapers. His art practice included portraits, still life and landscapes, as well as mural designs, one of which was awarded the Sulman Prize in 1938.

Australian beach pattern 1940

Always popular, this painting has contributed more than any other towards the myth of an Australian ‘type’ as young, sporty, healthy and outdoor-loving. Presenting a stylised and idealised picture of physical perfection and strength, it reflects many ideas prevalent at the time, including nationalism, eugenics and the body culture movement.

According to his apprentice, the artist Freda Robertshaw, ‘Charles never went to the beach. We made up most of the figures, occasionally using one of Charles’ employees as a model for the hands and feet but never using the complete figure.’

Related material

Meere made a drawing or ‘cartoon’ for the work, which is also in the Gallery’s collection.