As one of the twentieth century's most innovative and acclaimed artists, Fred Williams (1927-82) was an icon of Australian art. Williams revolutionised the way we see the natural environment through a distinctive approach to landscape.
He painted all corners of Australia, from Tasmania to Far North Queensland to remote districts of Western Australia, but what is less well known is that Williams was also a visitor to Gippsland, especially in the years between 1968 and 1979.
In those years Williams visited Wilson’s Promontory, the coastline around Walkerville and Waratah Bay, and the Agnes and Toorongo Falls. It was here, in Gippsland, that Fred Williams revolutionised Australian landscape through the creation of a fragmented, ‘zip’ approach, which enabled him to convey the sense of vastness and nature and its infinite horizons.
Grand Country represents the first time that Williams’ Gippsland landscapes have been brought together in their totality. The seventeen works have been generously loaned to the Gallery from some of the nation’s greatest collections, such as the National Gallery of Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria. Further loans have been made through the Latrobe Regional Gallery and the estate of the artist. United for this special exhibition, visitors will see the Gippsland landscape as Williams saw it – a rich palette of colours, dynamic forms, and intense beauty. From beaches to fertile hinterlands to noble waterfalls, Gippsland brought out the very best in this virtuoso painter, through visions that are now accepted as some of the greatest works of Australian landscape.
Image: Lightning Storm, Waratah Bay,1971-72. Oil on canvas, 91.5 x 127cm. Collection National Gallery of Australia. Gift of Lyn Williams AM 2015. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program