Clarice Beckett’s Sandringham Beach is a dynamic and modern composition of sand, bathing boxes and beach walkers. Beckett depicted the scene from an unusual perspective–from a cliff looking down onto the beach. Captured in the glare of a summer day, the smooth body of sand appears to shimmer with ‘white heat’. Backing onto scruffy vegetation, the bright stripes of the bathing boxes are the most solid aspects of the composition. While these beach shacks were a key motif in the artist’s oeuvre, it is the perspective Beckett explored and the use of colour that transform this image. She recorded her unusual view by even including a craggy ti-tree branch that sprawls across the centre of the picture.
Sandringham Beachis one of Beckett’s largest paintings; she generally chose to work on smaller panels. In contrast to Charles Conder’s Ricketts Point, Beaumaris1890, the ocean only occupies a small portion of Beckett’s view. Painted around forty years after Conder, the beachgoers in Beckett’s composition are shown strolling along the water’s edge and a game of beach cricket is captured taking place between two young boys. The bright modern swimsuits and exposed skin of the walkers has been brushed onto the canvas with soft dabs of colour. The playful atmosphere of Sandringham Beach encapsulates Australia’s love affair with the beach as a key site of recreation and relaxation.