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Jean Appleton, Autumn Inside and Out

The Artist

Jean Appleton was born on the 13th September 1911 in the Sydney suburb of Ashfield.  She was encouraged early on to read and had a great sense of adventure  instilled into her by her parents, Charles and Elizabeth Appleton.  Jean was educated initially at the Haberfield Private School  where her interests drove her towards wanting to become an artist. After earning an intermediate certificate in 1928,  jean applied to study at the East Sydney Technical College and commenced a  five year  diploma course in art. At first Jean found her teachers  uninspiring but with the arrival of Douglas Dundas in 1930, her interests  became inspired. Appleton gradeduated with a diploma in drawing and illustration in 1933 and earned a college scholarship. After she observed impressionist prints lying in an Anthony Hordern U Sons department store, she became preoccupied about venturing to Europe and studying modern art to which her father objected.  Appleton shared and worked in a studio in Quay with fellow painter Dorothy Thornhill, and earned capital by  creating textile patterns.  She made multiple unsuccessful attempts to obtain the New South Wales Government Travelling Scholarship. After her father died in  1935 her mother was persuaded by Appleton's aunt to allow her daughter to travel to England by cargo ship with a minor income allowance.

Appleton  found affordable accommodation and enrolled at the Westminster School of Art's morning and evening classes over the next three years from 1936. She was educated by the painters Bernard Meninsky and Mark Gertler. Appleton completed Australia's two earliest cubist paintings in London, Still Life and Painting IX both  in 1937. She was part of a team of Australian artists that produced a 45 m mural and a gilded ram to erect it for the International Wool Secretariat at Glasgow's British Empire Exhibition in 1938. The threat of conflict in Europe, Jean's mother was getting anxious for her daughter to return to Australia. Jean  do so but not before attending the centenary Cezanne exhibition, Luxembourg and art in Italy.

In that time, teaching was a venture that allowed artists to continue working. Appleton taught at the Canberra Girls Grammar School in 1940 and carried out her first solo  exhibition at the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney. Jean also became interested in the war effort and did a course in vocational therapy because its director wanted volunteers to assist her. Appleton was granted a full time position until 1945. Following the end of World War Two, Jean taught at the Julian Ashton Art School  before heading over to East Sydney Technical College. The money Appleton accumulated allowed her to construct and purchase a house in Pymble. Jean ventured to Europe in 1951 and went to the studio of Paul Cezanne to renew ;her interests in impressionist and modern art.

Appleton's work received much recognition from the art sector. She won the Rockdale Art Prize in 1958, the D'Arcy MOrris Memorial Prize two years later, the Bathurst Art Prize in 1961 and the Portia geach Memorial Award in 1965. Her family spent time back in the UK during 1960 before returning  to Australia. Appleton went onto be represented on the Print Council of Australia Exhibition in 1968 following her interest in that area.

Jean visited her daughter in Dharamshala, North India in 1969 and befriended several Tibetan refugees. Appleton exhibited with JIm Alexander Gallery in Melbourne in 1985. She underwent a cataract operation in 1991 and created a large mural-sized painting after her sight was corrected. A retrospective of her work was held at the Campbelltown City Bicentennial Art Gallery in 1996.  IN j199, the writers Christine France and Caroline Simpson produced an essay on Appleton called Jean Appleton: A Lifetime with At. After an exhibition of her work to the conclusion of World War Two at the Sturt Gallery in MIttagong, in 20000 Jean passed away in August 2003.

Jean Appleton's Autumn Inside and Out

The Work of Art

How can the art of Jean Appleton be described? Her style as shown with Autumn inside and out is full of light. Her pastel colours are dreamy and  betrays her  early interest in the Impressionists such as Cezanne and Renior.  The work of art, created in  1977 when  Appleton's  style was becoming increasingly decorative. Her works have often been described as 'a very personal thing' and 'poetry in painting'.