Jeffrey Smart’s exhibition at Sydney University is not to be missed. Before you read any more, have a look at the image, ‘Night Stop, Bombay’ (1981) on the university web page about the exhibition. This one interested me, because the travellers among us have all seen things like this. (Urban Sketchers always sketch the cabin of the aircraft. I don’t because I’m perverse like that).
Jeffrey Smart was an Australian artist who lived in Italy. He died last year while I was in Bali. I think he is my favourite artist of all. He painted those hard edged things that I have come to sketch and paint in the years since I left art school (2007).
So what do I draw on the aircraft? My drink. It started when I did my first trip after a long time without travel. I was going to Bali on Garuda Indonesia, and I ordered a Bintang beer and drew that. So much associated with Bali. Then my next trip I was flying Finnair. That airline uses Ittala glassware, so another sketch closely associated with the country of origin. Next trip will be on Cathay Pacific. I wonder what that will bring.
But this image from the aircraft window interested me. It was painted before the advent of readily available digital cameras. Now, what we would do is sketch, then take a photo to aid in developing the painting. Not then. The sketchbook associated with the painting was there. Smart had done three sketches. There were also some notes which said he had used a truck tyre to finish his work for the painting because they were more readily available.
If you are in Sydney, don’t miss this exhibition. It is on until 2nd March. If not, Google Jeffrey Smart and look at the images. You will see why I like his paintings so much. Urban landscape, clear clean colours, interesting skies, not necessarily blue.