The James Gleeson oral history collection

James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists

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Big dome 1988
Print, intaglio, etching and aquatint, printed in black ink, from one plate
plate-mark 18.0 h x 16.8 w cm
sheet 38.0 h x 28.0 w cm
Purchased with the assistance of the Gordon Darling Australasian Print Fund 2002
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Brian Dunlop

29 September 1979

Brian Dunlop: I went overseas for one year in 1960. Then I came back to Sydney for two years and I went away for four and a half years.

James Gleeson: I see. Where was that long visit?

Brian Dunlop: It was mainly in Italy, Greece, Spain and England.

James Gleeson: I see.

Brian Dunlop: Mainly around the southern Mediterranean.

James Gleeson: Yes, and you were working at that time?

Brian Dunlop: I was painting and I worked as a set painter in Rome at the film studio in 1963.

James Gleeson: Did you? That must have been interesting?

Brian Dunlop: Yes, we had to repaint the Sistine Chapel.

James Gleeson: Oh, was this for this film on Michelangelo?

Brian Dunlop: Yes.

James Gleeson: That Charlton Heston one?

Brian Dunlop: Yes, yes.

James Gleeson: What was it called?

Brian Dunlop: Agony without any ecstasy.

James Gleeson: And you actually painted the Sistine Chapel?

Brian Dunlop: Yes.

James Gleeson: Any other Australians involved with that?

Brian Dunlop: No, no.

James Gleeson: You were the only Australian?

Brian Dunlop: Yes.

James Gleeson: Repainting Michelangelo. Well, that must have been interesting.

Brian Dunlop: It was from the point of view of there were some craftsmen there who did the trompe l’oeil decoration in the renaissance style, and they knew the actual methods and technique.

James Gleeson: Yes.

Brian Dunlop: Also I learnt to control the tempera medium, which I came to use. That enabled me to use gouache, which I used for many years, because the drying of the colour is slightly different to when you apply it. It dries a slightly different tone.

James Gleeson: I see.

Brian Dunlop: I learnt to control the medium.

James Gleeson: The new Michelangelo you did, were they in tempera?

Brian Dunlop: Yes. When I say ‘tempera’, just the powder and water.

James Gleeson: I see. You didn’t actually simulate the fresco process with painting on wet lime, did you?

Brian Dunlop: No, no. It was done on fibreglass panels.

James Gleeson: You’re giving away secrets.

Brian Dunlop: Yes.

James Gleeson: Film secrets. Did you recognise any of your work when you saw the film?

Brian Dunlop: Yes. Well, we even painted medieval tapestries.


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