Australian Art


Angela Abbott
Angela Abbott


Born: 1940 Melbourne
  • Landscape
  • Painter

Angela is the only daughter of Joyce Taylor and William Abbott. Angela's mother Joyce, had an early appreciation of the Arts.
Her family lived at Koroit and on some occasions when her father, George Swanson Taylor, was going to Melbourne he would take her, and whilst there, visit the National Gallery. This early introduction of the Arts was carried through to Angela. The Abbots lived in Collingwood during 1943-1946, and during those formative years, Angela experienced a range of cultural activities ranging from concerts to art exhibitions. On one occasion her Aunt, Agnes Taylor, took her to the National Gallery and Angela became totally transfixed before a particularly heroic painting. She didn't want to move. Her Aunt was both amused and surprised that such a small child could be so absorbed by a painting.

Angela's family moved to Echuca when she was six. Her Father had been appointed Manager of the Union Bank there (later to become the ANZ). Angela had always enjoyed drawing, but it wasn't until she was a Secondary Student at Echuca High School that it became a serious challenge. In the latter years she was taught and inspired by two Art Teachers, Gwen Marrows and Vida Gibson, causing Angela to seriously consider Art as a career.

Upon moving back to Melbourne, Angela completed her secondary education at MacRobertson's Girls' High School. She had considered doing Commercial Art but decided it was too competitive and finally decided to do Kindergarten Teaching. She did her training at the "Kindergarten Training College" at Kew. There she met and was tutored by a remarkable and marvellous educator by the name of Frances Derham, who was also a painter and a writer of Educational Arts-related material for children. Frances was a major influence on Angela. They both shared the mutual philosophy of nurturing and encouraging creativity in children. During this period (1960-61) Angela was attending night classes at the National Gallery School under Ian Armstrong.

In 1966, Angela went to Alice Springs for a holiday. Fascinated by the colour and rugged beauty of the Territory, she finished up applying for a position at the "Amoonguna" Aboriginal Settlement Kindergarten and worked there as an assistant for a good year, then completing her time of two years in the Territory at a Kinder in East Alice Springs, and as always, drawing and sketching in her spare time.

When she returned to Melbourne, she was very keen to progress from drawing to painting and was seeking a suitable teacher. Her mother was acquainted with Archibald Colquhoun and he in turn recommended that she try Shirley Bourne as a tutor. Shirley, apart from taking private lessons, also taught part-time at the Victorian Artists' Society. Angela studied with Shirley from 1969 to 1973 and to this day maintains a high regard for Shirley's abilities as a teacher. During the 1970s she painted and exhibited with the "Seven Painters" group, mainly around the Eltham area. She is presently a member of the Victorian Artists' Society and served on their council from December 1975 to April 1978. She is also a committee member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. Her very first solo exhibition was at the Rosiland Humphries Galleries which was then under the directorship of Russell Davis (1974). The gallery subsequently became "Russell Davis Gallery" and Angela again exhibited there in 1976. In 1979, after the death of her father, she and her mother toured Europe, visiting galleries in the UK, France, Spain, Italy, etc., and returned to Australia full of enthusiasm and filled with inspiration.

In late 1982, Angela entered the Alice Bale Educational and Travelling Scholarship Award, stating on the application form her preferred length of time to pursue the practical aspects of painting would be three months. Some months later, she received a telephone call from Sir William Dargie. He was Chairman of the Committee that assisted the Trustees in their final decision as to whom would be judged a suitable recipient of the award. He wanted to know whether she would be prepared to go for 12 months. She thought for a moment, and then said yes. After putting down the 'phone, the wonderful realisation hit her that she was in the running.
Angela was ultimately awarded the 1983 "Alice Bale Art Award".
She resigned and left the profession of Kindergarten Teaching, feeling quite confident and ready for her full time commitment to painting.

In June 1984, she based herself in London, visiting galleries in the UK and Europe. She returned to Australia in July 1985 and in September of that year married South African born Ian Graham whom she had met in Switzerland in 1979. He is a keen photographer and together they visit National Parks and the like, to work and pursue their individual interests.
In 1990 she was invited to join "The Twenty Melbourne Painters".
In May of 1992, the Victorian Artists' Society held an exhibition of present and past Council Members, and Angela was represented by two of her works. Angela presently teaches part time at the Victorian Artists' Society, as well as judging exhibitions and conducting critiques for art societies.

She is an animated person, displaying a quiet confidence and a belief that her work is an natural ongoing process. She paints directly from nature and life, though enjoying movement and the changing situations of "Plein Air".
Source: Interview, by Willi Carney, 8th April, 1992.


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