Item F2622 - The rudiments of the language of art

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The rudiments of the language of art


  • [21 April 1942] (Creation)

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[i], 35 p. ; ill., some in col.; tipped in photographs (b. & w.) ; 28 x 42 cm.

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Biographical history

Frances Vida Lahey was born on 26 August 1882 at Pimpama, Queensland. She was the daughter of David Lahey, an Irish-born farmer and timber-miller, and mother, Jane Jemima Lahey (nee Walmsley). She was the eldest of 12 children. She learned painting from Godfrey Rivers at Brisbane Technical College, then studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne in 1905 to 1906. In 1909 she studied painting with Frederick McCubbin and Bernard Hall. With the outbreak of World War One, Vida abandoned her artistic pursuits and established a home base in London for her brothers and cousins who had enlisted. After the war she traveled Europe, returning to Australia in 1920. She taught art for many years in Brisbane. Together with Daphne Mayo they co-founded, in 1929, the Queensland Art Fund and they were involved in raising funds for the acquisition of works for the Queensland Art Gallery. In recognition for her services to art, Vida received a M.B.E. (Member of the British Empire) in 1958. She passed away on 29 August 1968.

She is considered one of Australia's best known and respected women artists, renowned both for her artistic production and her activities as an art educator and advocate. 'Monday Morning', a large oil painting of Lahey's sister and a friend scrubbing clothes at the family washtub launched she professional career and is her most persistent claim to fame.

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This typescript is based on a lecture Vida Lahey delivered in the University of Queensland Duhig lecture which explains her views on the philosophy of a universal language of art. A philosophy she applied in her children's art classes established at the Queensland Art Gallery in 1941.

Written, arranged and bound by Vida Lahey, lettering by R.J. Pring. At head of title page.: A record of the second lecture in a series of lectures on art, sponsored by Professor J.V. Duhig for the University of Queensland. Text is typed on white foolscap sheets which have been pasted on the brown sheet forming the volume. Accompanying illustrations, both reproductions and originals have also been pasted in. Hand decorated covers. 9 unnumbered blank pages of brown paper.

At the bottom of the title page: The contention put forward in this address is that deeper comprehension and greater enjoyment would be derived from art, if it was regarded primarily as a visual language operating through shapes and colours, rather than through subject matter only. This language comprises an alphabet and roots, grammar and syntax, principles of composition, dialect and styles.

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Unrestricted access.

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  • English

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Publication note

Material from this collection has been cited in:
Lovell, Sue (2008). 'Wanted, a strong girl, able to milk and make herself agreeable'. Australian Feminist Studies. 23. 195-211.

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Dates of creation revision deletion

Revised, Linda Justo, 15-Jul-2019; Migrated from LMS: April 2019, P.A.




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