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Australian art

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recto: Study (Old brickworks, Ryde) verso: Study (Old brickworks, Ryde)



Nancy Borlase


24 Mar 1914 - 11 Sep 2006


Nancy Borlase was born in New Zealand and by 1932 had joined the sketch club of Rita Angus and Alfred Cook in Napier. Borlase's association with Angus, who would become known as one of New Zealand's key modernist painters, encouraged Borlase’s determination to become an artist. She studied at Canterbury College of Art, Christchurch before moving to Sydney in 1937 and enrolling at East Sydney Technical College, initially in sculpture, and later, painting. She also studied with George Bell in Melbourne, where she met her future husband, trade unionist Laurie Short.

Notions of simplified form and unifying lyrical compositional structures of spatial and rhythmic harmony are evident in Borlase's painting throughout the 1940s and early 50s. The work demonstrates her interest in interpreting the industrial structures of Sydney's urban landscapes - she lived with Short and their daughter in Balmain during the 1940s, which she found stimulating due to its proximity to the busy working, war-time harbour. By the 1950s they were living further out in Gladesville which proved less visually interesting, causing her to seek subjects elsewhere.

This double-sided drawing is closely related to a painting in the AGNSW collection, ‘Old brickworks, Ryde II’. The drawing was made while the artist sat on the executive of the Contemporary Art Society (CAS), and precedes her shift into abstraction that occurred some three years later.




Media category


Materials used

pen and ink, crayon on paper (recto); pencil, conte on paper (verso)


recto: 23.4 x 28.1 cm sight verso: 22.7 x 28.9 cm sight

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., pen and black ink "NB/ 52".


Purchased with funds provided by the Gil & Shay Docking Drawing Fund 2017


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Nancy Borlase

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history