Part 1: Important Fine Art
28 November 2012


born 1942

oil on composition board

50.0 x 40.0 cm

signed lower right: Garry Shead

Private sale

Kenthurst Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney

Catalogue text

D.H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda spent three months in Australia in 1922, the majority in the small south coast town of Thirroul. There Lawrence wrote the novel Kangaroo, a partly biographical account of his time exploring the identity of a people through the microcosm of a hamlet. Garry Shead's reading of Kangaroo, and the parallels in his own life when he and wife Judith moved to Bundeena in 1987, was to result in what remains one of his most enduring series.

Commenced in 1991, of the D.H. Lawrence paintings Sasha Grishin noted, 'Shead's Kangaroo series is a personal, intuitive response to the novel, rather than an attempt to illustrate the narrative. The imagery has much to do with the Lawrences at Thirroul, as with the characters in the novel. Richard Somers and his wife Harriet, of the novel, in the paintings appear, as strange and ambiguous figures, at times taking on the features of Lawrence and Frieda, at others, having more than a passing resemblance to Shead and his wife Judith.'1

The series can also be viewed as a manifestation of the post modern interpretation of simulacrum; a hyper real lens through which Shead interprets his most private self. Which manifestation is most 'real' becomes problematic as both the novel and Shead's series are products of the imagination, separated by some 70 years. The paintings, of which The Manuscript is a lyrical example, leave the viewer with the sensation of being witness to something of great importance in the process of occurring though not quite at the point of fruition. This sensation, beautifully created by Shead in visual form, is an interesting extension of the novel, described by Lawrence as a 'thought adventure where nothing happens and such a lot of things should happen.'2

1. Grishin, S., 'Garry Shead: Amazed and Amused', Australian Art Collector, Issue 14 ,October - December, 2000, p. 80
2. Letter to Catherine Carswell, 22 June 1922, cited in Grishin, S., Garry Shead: The D.H. Lawrence Paintings, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1993, p. 12