Ailsa Lee Brown (known as Ailsa Allen from 1935) was born in Sydney and studied art at the Julian Ashton Sydney Art School with Thea Proctor and Adelaide Perry. Unlike many of her peers whose works emulated the styles of these teachers, Brown developed her own particular imagery in prints that expressed an emphasis on design, surface patterning and stylisation distinctive to Sydney modernism during this period.
She was one of only a few of these students to continue to make prints after leaving art school, and exhibited them regularly (with the Society of Artists). They were reproduced in 'Undergrowth', 'Art in Australia' and 'Manuscripts'.
Apart from a period in San Francisco before she studied art (she was there in 1922), and two years living in Brisbane between 1935-36, Lee Brown lived and worked in Sydney until her premature death in 1943. There are three other known Sydney subjects by Allen - 'Woolloomooloo' 1928, 'Pittwater' 1937 (NGA) and 'Moths around the quay' 1932 (National Trust of NSW).
© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004
linocut, printed in black ink on thin Japanese tissue
20.9 x 21.1 cm blockmark; 26.0 x 23.1 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Ailsa Lee Brown '27".
Purchased with funds provided by the Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours Benefactors Fund 2004
Not on display
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Shooting through: Sydney by tram, Museum of Sydney, Sydney, 04 Apr 2009–18 Oct 2009
Modern impressions; Australian prints from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 02 Sep 2016–Jan 2017
Referenced in 4 publications
Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Making Sydney modern: the artistic shaping of the postwar city', pg. 66-85, Sydney, 2013, 71 (colour illus.), 310.
Unknown and Unknown, Shooting through: Sydney by tram, Sydney, 2009, 44, 45 (colour illus.).
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Last sto, p -, Sydney, Feb 2005, 15 (colour illus.).
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2005, Sydney, 2005, 18, 63.