The James Gleeson oral history collection
James Gleeson interviews Australia's major artists
Cabbage patch 1948
Print, stencil, screenprint, printed in colour, from 13 stencils
printed image 37.0 h x 43.5 w cm
sheet 53.2 h x 60.2 w cm
28 November 1978
Alan Sumner: This is Cabbage patch. I did a painting of this out at South Morang and I liked the painting and I thought I could make a print of it. So I went back to the scene, back to the place, and did another sketch. Sometimes I did this if it wasn’t an inaccessible place. I made a new sketch with a print in mind, having the painting at the back of my mind also.
James Gleeson: I see.
Alan Sumner: So that was quite a major project.
James Gleeson: Any particular place? Can you remember?
Alan Sumner: South Morang.
James Gleeson: South Morang.
Alan Sumner: Yes, South Morang. This particular print, I think, is the best print that I produced. That’s my own estimation of it.
James Gleeson: I see. Well, that’s interesting to know that you think that. Is that a good copy of it?
Alan Sumner: You’ve got a good copy of it in Canberra, yes. That’s a very good copy of it. But the way in which the ink has gone on and the tones and the separation, which doesn’t show itself in this photograph, seem to me to be the best that I’d done. It seemed to do all that I tried to do in printmaking.
James Gleeson: I see. So in a way it’s a climax to the whole—
Alan Sumner: A kind of a climax, yes. Yes, I didn’t do anything better than that, I don’t think.
James Gleeson: What’s its number, Cabbage patch?
Alan Sumner: Cabbage patch is No. 39.
James Gleeson: Thirty-nine. So we do have that one? I didn’t recognise it in colour. That’s Country railway station.
Alan Sumner: Country railway station. That’s Upwey Railway Station as it was in those days. That’s the same fence that you see in Cabbage patch.
James Gleeson: Oh, is it?
Alan Sumner: Yes, the same fence as in Cabbage patch. That was a painting that was made during the war, but again adapted and made much more dramatic. For example, the sky was nothing like that in the painting.
James Gleeson: I see, yes.Alan Sumner: The method I used to take the eye from the foreground, the beginning of the picture plane, up into the picture, was much more dramatic than in the picture itself, the painting itself. It’s in oranges. The building is orange and yellow, I recall, and the water tank in pale blue and deep blue and black, and the old engine, which is still running up there.