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

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Grace Cossington Smith 1973 'Sydney Morning Herald' photograph by George Lipman   
Grace Cossington Smith 1973 'Sydney Morning Herald' photograph by George Lipman  

In the late 1940s Grace Cossington Smith regularly painted interiors. Among them were works focusing on the presence of objects – particularly chairs – that appear almost like portraits. As in her subsequent works the artist conveys the meeting of interior and exterior spaces, reflecting light and the natural world through windows and doorways.

By the mid-1950s she began to concentrate primarily on depicting the rooms of her home, Cossington. This was partly due to the fact that the artist’s much-loved sister Diddy had become ill and she wanted to spend more time with her. In the later works Cossington Smith came to fully realise her aim to express colour vibrant with light. As she said, ‘My chief interest I think has always been colour, but not crude flat colour. It must be colour within colour, it has to shine; light must be in it’. (Interview with Hazel de Berg, 1965, National Library of Australia)

In these late paintings Cossington Smith’s ability as a colourist came to the fore in unison with a sure sense of structure, reaffirming her long-held interest in architecture, domestic spaces and illuminated doorways in her early sketchbooks. Luminosity was expressed in her late interiors and still-life paintings in confident, square touches of pure colour. Decades after moving to the family home as a young artist, she was creating works that reveal the confidence of a mature painter at the height of her powers.

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