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Childhoods past
About Frances Derham

Introduction | Social events | Political events | Special events | Personal and cultural identity | Hermannsberg and Aurukun school

School and family life | Writing patterns | Fingerpainting | Observations of daily life | 'Reach for the apple' | Frances Derham

 

Frances Derham, known as Frankie to friends and family, was born Frances Alexandra Mabel Letitia Anderson in Malvern, Victoria in 1894.

Teaching was Derham’s great love and as her own children grew up, she taught art at the Melbourne Kindergarten Training College. There she began her life’s work dedicated to the study of child art and its function in liberating and developing the expressive and creative powers of the young. She espoused the ‘process, not the product’ slogan which was common at the time and which emerged as a reaction against the structured and rigid art programs of the earlier part of the century. She firmly believed that sound art practices would enhance the life of the young child through opportunities for self-expression. Derham’s legacy has provided opportunities for us all to admire and appreciate the art of children.

Although known mainly for her work in child art education, Frances Derham was also an accomplished artist. As a child she was considered talented and attended art lessons in New Zealand (1902) and Ireland (1906–07) as her father, a civil engineer, supervised various projects. In 1911 Derham decided to study sculpture, enrolling at Swinburne Technical College where the Chief Instructor was the English sculptor J.R. Tranthim-Fryer. She also joined the drawing class at the National Gallery School. Fellow students Mary Cecil Allen, Ethel Spowers and Mabel Pye became life-long friends. Marriage and the birth of her four children, interrupted her teaching career, but it was during these years that her interest in printmaking developed. Ethel Spowers taught her the rudiments of the craft and over the next two decades Derham produced many works.

Child art education took up most of Derhams time from the 1930s until her death in 1987, but she remained vigorously involved in the wider art world. She had been active in the Victorian Arts and Crafts Society since the early 1920s, was a member of The George Bell School and was a founding member of the Contemporary Art Society.

 

Frances Derham
Australia

Sydney bridge


22.1 x 29.6 cm

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Frances Derham
Australia

Aboriginal artists


16.2 x 12.8 cm

 

 

 

 

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Frances Derham
Australia

Happy holidays


8.6 x 9.8 cm

 

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Frances Derham
Australia

Kangaroo


12.7 x 10.3 cm

 

 

 

 

 

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Frances Derham
Australia

Possum & koala


51.0 x 33.0 cm

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Frances Derham
Australia

Tom, David and Bill at the seaside (happy toddlers)


13.3 x 14.8 cm

 

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