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John Santry, Geese at Hill End

John Santry, Geese at Hill End

John Santry by Stephen Kaldor

The Artist

John Santry is one of the older known artists in the University of Canberra's Art Collection, active during the mid to latter half of the Twentieth Century. Born in Sydney in 1910 and growing up in working class Pyrmont, his exposure to art was limited at his convent school. His first job on leaving school was at Paramount Pictures in Sydney, where he emptied the jars of water used by the studio artists to clean their rushes. This lead to him enrolling as a part -time student at the Royal Art Society under Dattilo Rubbo and Sydney Long and at the East Sydney Technical College. He  subsequently became a commercial artist at Paramount Pictures before working in black and white. This was followed by a short stint in advertising after which he freelanced. He contributed to Labour Daily in the 1930s when he was married with a small child. A second child was born during an extended stay in England in the 1930s, where he went to study at Westminster School, London under Bernard Mehnininsky and Mark Gertler. He shared a studio with William Dobell, Donarld Friend and Arthur Murch. Other fellow students included JOhn Passmore and Jack Carington Smith who once called him t' the outstanding draughtsman of our era'. While in the UK he worked under Arthur Murch on the Australian Wool Pavilion Exhibition in Glasgow along with Donald Friend and others. Santry returned to Australia shortly before the outbreak of World War Two and joined the Australian Consolidated Press as a creative artist. Santry became best known for his cartoons and works of art following a post-impressionist style. John was also an influencial figure who, with Lloyd Rees and Roland Watekin formed the Norwood Group painting scenes of the Upper North Shore of Sydney Harbour. One of their group was a young Brett Whiteley.

John Santry is known to have won a number of awards including prizes in the Dunlop competition and other regional competitions. Santry also lectured in art at the Sydney University and the Eastern Sydney Technical College. His works of art are represented in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery  and Bendigo Art Gallery.

The Work of Art

Although 'Geese at Hill End' is the only work of art that represents John Santry, it is a pleasantly composed  charcoal drawing. The picture depicts a regional village with a chapel featuring prominently in the background in a small glade of trees. The work has a good sense of perspective and reflects a style found in many of his later works. The work was acquired by the University of Canberra (when it was still Canberra College of Advanced Education) in June 1973.

(image to come)


John Terence Santry entry, Alan and Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1994 p624

John Terence Santry entry, Design and Art Australia Online,

John Santry, Trove entry,