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Lloyd Rees Sketchbooks
"�I really think we are in one of the unique spots in Italy with this wonderful old town and its towers looming up behind and the magical landscape falling away hill beyond hill each with its villa or palace bosomed in cypress and the slopes a rhythm of vine and olive among which the farm houses nestle in their dull ochres and golden hay stacks. You must all come here some day!"

Lloyd Rees to Alan and Jan Rees
28 June 1959

The great Australian artist Lloyd Rees (1895-1988) made four extended visits to Europe between 1953 and 1973. He recorded his passion for Europe in a variety of sketchbooks, which are now amongst the most prized works in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

This is the first exhibition to be devoted to Rees� sketchbooks and his love of Europe. The sketchbooks contain many drawings of the Tuscan landscape around San Gimignano, of Venice, Rome, the Greek islands, and of Paris. He drew the landscape of southern France around B�ziers and of the town of V�zelay in Burgundy. Rees returned on each visit to draw the interior of Chartres Cathedral which left a deep impression on him during his first visit in 1953. This led to a rich body of work comprising drawings and paintings all of which depended upon drawings in his sketchbooks.

�Rees did not own or ever use a camera, so his sketchbook drawings provided the record he needed of a place. He drew his subjects in situ, a time honoured and for Rees a life-long practice, which began for him as an adolescent around 1913, when the streets and architecture of Brisbane where he was born, first seriously attracted his attention,� said Hendrik Kolenberg, Senior Curator of Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours at the Art Gallery of New South Wales, and Curator of this exhibition.

All of Rees� European sketchbooks will also be on display, the pages of which will be turned periodically. From the sketchbooks it is possible to reconstruct Rees� travels in Europe to follow his movements from place to place, sometimes day by day. �Invariably Lloyd Rees found his subjects close to where he was staying, as he did in Australia. He rarely strayed very far from his hotel room. The adventure for him was in exploring subject matter close at hand, not searching for it,� said Hendrik Kolenberg.

The exhibition also includes drawings Rees removed from these sketchbooks � these will be presented to show all their edges in order to emphasize their sketchbook origins. Some became source material for other prints, large drawings and paintings - like the Gallery�s A tribute to France 1968-69.

To accompany the exhibition the Gallery is publishing a hardcover book Lloyd Rees in Europe, selected drawings from his sketchbooks in the gallery�s collection, comprising 110 of the finest selected from almost 700 drawings in the Gallery�s Rees sketchbook collection.

All 19 of Lloyd Rees�s extant sketchbooks were donated to the Art Gallery of New South Wales by Alan and Jan Rees, the artist�s son and daughter-in-law, between 1995 and 2001. They are part of an extensive collection of prints and drawings by Rees many of which have already been presented to the Gallery by Alan and Jan Rees.

This exhibition, like the previously popular centenary retrospective of his drawings in 1995, offers further insight into his work, appreciation of his acute powers of observation, draughtsmanship and sensitivity to place.

"Rees drew fastidiously but quickly in his sketchbooks, his handwriting, personality and emotion inextricably part of the activity. He rarely started a work without his subject matter before him � he was a passionate advocate of remaining true to first visual impressions. His European sketchbooks confirm and celebrate that and as a result provide us with the most intimate and revealing encounters with his work and its sources."

Hendrik Kolenberg
Senior Curator, Australian Prints, Drawings & Watercolours
Art Gallery of New South Wales

On view:Saturday 9 February to Sunday 28 April 2002
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery Road
The Domain, Sydney 2000, Australia
Telephone:(02) 9225 1744 or recorded information
(02) 9225 1790
Hours:10am to 5pm 7 days a week
(closed Christmas Day & Easter Friday)
Admission:Free of Charge
Media Information and Interviews:Jan Batten
Press Office
telephone 61 2 9233 1213

Lloyd Rees painting on the Grand Canal, Venice, 1953 photograph by Alan Rees