ARTEFACTS: Discovering watercolour birdlife

Gladys O'GRADY (1894 - 1985)



Gladys O’GRADY (1894 – 1985), Rufous Fantail, Watercolour on paper, 27 x 40cm, Gift of Doris O’Grady 1988, O’Grady Collection
Gladys O’GRADY (1894 – 1985), Rufous Fantail, Watercolour on paper, 27 x 40cm, Gift of Doris O’Grady 1988, O’Grady Collection

Rufous Fantail is one of a series of large watercolours of Australian birds by Gladys O'Grady. The dynamics of the painting captures the energy of these dainty birds. The rufous fantail or rhipidura rufifrons lives in groups in the eucalypt forests and rainforests of the northern and eastern coasts of Australia as well as in New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Sulawesi and Guam. They constantly fan their tails and flick their wings and bodies while foraging for insects to eat. Gladys O'Grady painted these richly coloured birds in their natural habitat with a high level of detail and accuracy. She is one the Clarence Valley's most well-known artists and her contribution to the visual arts and to ornithology is recognised nationally.

Gladys grew up on a dairy farm on the Seelands peninsula. She and her two brothers and two sisters were home schooled by their mother, Yvette, who developed the artistic expression of her children in art, music and writing. Apart from taking a few painting lessons from J S Watkins in Sydney, Gladys was mainly self-taught.  Throughout her life she travelled painting and drawing birds and plants and pursuing her passion for ornithology. The Grafton Regional Gallery holds a major collection of the artist's work gifted by her sister Doris, by her nephew Robert O'Grady and his wife Cheryl and by members of the community.



HSC Visual Art exhibition opening this week at Grafton Library. This exhibition celebrates the creative talent our year 12 students studying Visual Arts. Students develop a body of work exploring creative concept across all mediums including sculpture, painting, drawing and mixed media. This, not be missed exhibition, is a great celebration of the milestone that is the HSC. The Gallery is open during library hours and exhibition will be on display until mid-December.

The exhibition Summer Sensations on at Prentice House, Grafton Regional Gallery was inspired by the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts, London.  The Summer Exhibition has been running continuously since 1769 and is the world's largest open submission art show.  It brings together art in all mediums - prints and paintings, film, photography, sculpture, architectural works and more - by leading artists, Royal Academicians and household names as well as new and emerging talent. Grafton Regional Gallery is committed to supporting the artists of our region and Summer Sensations is the second exhibition in an ongoing annual project to celebrate local artists of the Clarence Valley and their wonderful creative contribution to the cultural vibrancy of the area. This open submission exhibition showcases artwork across all mediums and features artwork from emerging and established artists and is on display until 24 December at Grafton Regional Gallery.

Out & about

Heading up the coast, take a trip by the Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre to view an exciting program of exhibitions including the National Art (part one) and Mary Shelley - A Seditious Heart.

National Art (part one)
National Art (part one) presents a dynamic selection of artworks by 50 of Australia's most significant artists who studied at Australia's leading art school - Sydney's National Art School. As the National Art School approaches 100 years on its Darlinghurst site (1922-2022) and over 175 years in operation, this exhibition celebrates some of the extraordinary artists who trained at the institution over the past seven decades. The exhibition features recent artworks and early formative works by key alumni, and applauds the creative drive, skill and imagination of those who have emerged from the School's historic sandstone walls to become artists of national significance.

National Art (part one) presents diverse approaches to artmaking bound by a common grounding in studio-based practice and a passionate commitment to experimentation. The artists' approaches vary considerably, from abstract and expressive genres to experimentation with form, to cultural landscapes and political perspectives, dada and the surreal, interior viewpoints and the everyday. The work demonstrates the various disciplines taught at NAS; ceramics, painting, photomedia, printmaking, sculpture, as well as inter-disciplinary practices utilising digital media, assemblage, performance and artist books. On display until January 3.

Mary Shelley - A Seditious Heart
Justin Ealand and Wendy Powitt

Photographer Justin Ealand and embroiderer and sculptor Wendy Powitt bring together an enchanting exhibition that highlights the difficulties of life, when as individuals we are not completely in tune with our community's belief system of acceptable behaviour. This exhibition will re-create three imaginary rooms from the house of Mary and Percy Shelley that foster radical ideas and communicate social difficulties to inspire audience contemplation on today's society. Mary and Percy Shelley were writers and poets of the early 19th century, with Mary writing the legendary gothic tale Frankenstein at the age of 18. Mary and Percy lived a radical, passionate and itinerant life in Europe, and were complex and interesting individuals. On display until February 28.

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