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House and garden, Western suburbs, Melbourne Theme: Cities & Suburbs

Artist: Howard ARKLEY
Birth/Death: 1951–1999

Title: House and garden, Western suburbs, Melbourne

Credit Line: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

Howard Arkley developed a dynamic style, exploring colour, line, shape and pattern in our urban environment. He created images of suburban life in much the same way as an earlier generation explored the rural and outback landscape. To younger artists this was an obvious place to start, as almost 90 per cent of Australians live in the suburbs. This large airbrushed image was painted in 1988 and titled House and garden, Western suburbs, Melbourne.

Arkley uses bold artificial colours, which emphasise the patterns of roof tiles and garage doors, paved pathways and sweeping lawns. He makes us aware that the suburbs are full of colour and unusual textures. Although the image is familiar and cheerful, almost like an advertisement in a real estate magazine, there is something alienating and isolated about the obsessive neatness, lack of human figures and the shadowy windows.

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