Gareth Sansom was born in Melbourne and studied art at RMIT between 1959-64. He came to prominence as a figurative painter in Melbourne in the 1960s at a time of increasing abstraction, with influences ranging from British pop art to Francis Bacon. Sansom’s idiosyncratic drawings, watercolours, collages and paintings work straddle figuration and abstraction, and are based on a personal iconography that extends back over fifty years, and includes imagery of a sexual, philosophical and religious nature. His work defies narrative - despite the apparent randomness of the images, the artist’s formal and aesthetic ordering of them within the structure of the composition renders them whole. Works on paper – drawings, watercolours, photography and collage – have always been a key part of his practice - he represented Australia at the Seventh Triennial India in 1991, and won the National Works on Paper Award at Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery in 2006, exhibiting watercolours in both.
'Made in Wadeye' is a suite of twenty drawings selected by the artist from a larger group of about forty made over a period of about eleven days in Wadeye, a remote Indigenous settlement south west of Darwin, in September 2012. Sansom spent two weeks in the town with his wife, a doctor, who had flown in for a month of clinical work. He walked the streets of the town, sometimes taking photographs, and observed and met the local people. The drawings were made in a pad of cartridge paper, disassembled once he returned to his Melbourne studio. To some, additional collage was applied, and then a selection of the final exhibited works made.
Works on paper are a discrete and ongoing aspect of Sansom’s oeuvre – "They balance out my work, explain what I am doing" (interview with the artist and AGNSW, 19 November 2012). Occasional drawings are used to resolve problems in a painting; some are kept in a “collage box”, for possible re-use in future works. Sansom’s Wadeye drawings were made independently of any other work, a product of his time in the settlement, which was a dislocating experience of time and place. However, while Wadeye was the impetus for the series, it was not its subject; "I make stream of consciousness drawings with sources going back years" (interview with the artist and AGNSW, 19 November 2012). References to Wadeye are limited to a small hand-drawn map given to the artist by a local nurse, which he has added as collage in one of the drawings, and some earth, captured in egg tempera on paper.
ink, lead pencil, graphite, coloured watercolour pencil, fibre-tipped pen, ball-point pen, egg tempera, earth, collage on white cartridge paper
29.7 x 42.0 cm each sheet; 119.0 x 210.0 cm overall; 127.5 x 219.0 x 6.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, black fibre-tipped pen "GS ‘12".
Gift of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 2012
Not on display
© Gareth Sansom. Licensed by Copyright Agency
Dobell Prize for Drawing
Where the work was made
Wadeye (Port Keats)
Shown in 2 exhibitions
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
- 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
Gareth Sansom, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 15 Sep 2017–21 Jan 2018
Referenced in 16 publications
Sean Aylmer (Editor in Chief), Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Pencil it in’, pg. 25, Sydney, 08 Dec 2012, 25 (colour illus.). Spectrum supplement; author unknown; artist is pictured standing in front of the work
Sean Aylmer (Editor in Chief), Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Summer: the planner’, pg. 6, Sydney, 26 Dec 2012, 6. author unknown
Helen Campbell, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘The prize winners 1993-2012’, pg. 19-61, Sydney, 2012, 58, 59 (colour illus.).
community’., ninemsn, ‘Made in Wadeye was inspired, Australia, 30 Nov 2012. not paginated; author unknown; viewed 03.12.2012, http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/national/made-in-wadeye-was-inspired-by-community/story-e6frfku9-1226527550605
Sarah Dingle., ABC News, ‘Melbourne artist wins Dobell drawing prize’, Australia, 30 Nov 2012, (colour illus., detail). not paginated; viewed 03.12.2012, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-11-30/melbourne-artist-wins-dobell-drawing-prize/4401344
Alexandra Djurichkovic., Australian art collector online, ‘Gareth Sansom wins final Dobell Drawing Prize’, Sydney, 04 Dec 2012, (colour illus., detail). not paginated; viewed 05.12.2012, http://www.artcollector.net.au/GarethSansomwinsfinalDobellDrawingPrize
Christopher Dore (Editor in Chief), Daily Telegraph, ‘Dobell prize will take a new line’, pg. 28, Sydney, 01 Dec 2012, 28 (colour illus.). author unknown; artist pictured standing next to work
Tim Douglas, Weekend Australian, ‘Dobell drawing prize awarded for the last time’, pg. 5, Sydney, 01 Dec 2012-02 Dec 2012, 5 (colour illus.). artist pictured standing next to work
Tim Douglas., The Australian, ‘Gareth Sansom wins Dobell Prize’, Canberra, 30 Nov 2012. not paginated; viewed 03.12.2012, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/gareth-sansom-wins-last-dobell-prize/story-fn9d3avm-1226527390298
Andrew Frost, Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Metro critic’s choice: art’, pg. 2, Sydney, 28 Dec 2012, 2 (colour illus.). Metro supplement
Andrew Frost., www.theartlife.com.au, ‘Dobell Prize for Drawing’, Australia, 21 Dec 2012, (colour illus.). not pgainated; viewed 11.01.2013, http://theartlife.com.au/2012/dobell-prize-for-drawing/
Sebastian Smee, Ashley Crawford, Simon Maidment and Pip Wallis, Gareth Sansom: Transformer, Melbourne, 2017, 130-131 (colour illus.), 195.
Look, ‘Drawing a line under the Dobell Prize’, pg. 10, Sydney, Feb 2013, 10 (colour illus.). author unknown; artist is pictured standing in front of the work
Andrew Taylor., Brisbane Times, ‘Top drawing prize erased after 20 years’, Brisbane, 30 Nov 2012, (colour illus.). not paginated; artist pictured standing next to work; viewed 03.12.2012, http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/top-drawing-prize-erased-after-20-years-20121130-2al6l.html
Andrew Taylor, Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Final stroke for the Dobell drawing prize’, pg. 2, Sydney, 01 Dec 2012-02 Dec 2012, 2.
Di Thomas (Editor in Chief), The Border Mail, ‘Artist goes bush and finds clarity of Wadeye’, pg. 24, Albury, 01 Dec 2012, 24 (colour illus.). author unknown; artist pictured standing next to work