DETAIL: Grace COSSINGTON SMITH,  'Interior in yellow', 1964, oil on composition board, National Gallery of Australia

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The Sydney Harbour Bridge

For Grace Cossington Smith, as for many artists at the time, the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was the source of much enthusiasm and inspiration. She tackled the subject with vigour in drawing after drawing and in some of the best paintings ever made of the Bridge.

Cossington Smith’s paintings and drawings are about the Bridge itself – about the excitement of it coming into being. In the rhythmic patterns and dramatic angles of The Bridge in building and the monumental The curve of the Bridge, one senses the awe-inspiring presence of the structure seen from Milson’s Point. Radiating light animates these works. In the iconic painting The Bridge in-curve the two arms of the Bridge reach out towards each other, evoking a new era of hope and possibility.

The auras and luminous colour in these works suggest Cossington Smith’s sense of the sacred made visible in light, and also relate to her practical study and discussions with fellow artists. As she said, ‘I’m always so anxious to get the feeling of penetrating light … Nothing to me is solid colour. There must always be light in it.I can remember Roy De Maistre saying years ago, “You don’t want to make your skies so heavy”, and I said, “But the blue is such a very deep blue” … and he said, “Yes it is deep blue, but you’ve got to remember that it’s also light.” And that’s just it’. (Interview with Alan Roberts, 1970)

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