100 Highlights from the Cbus Collection of Australian Art
27 July 2022


(1951 - 1999)

synthetic polymer paint on paper

76.0 x 55.5 cm

signed, dated and inscribed with title verso: For / Kenneth / with love / Howard 98
signed, dated and inscribed verso: Name Howard Arkley / Date 1998 / Size 560 x 760 mm / Medium Acrylic on paper / Title Dull home  

$25,000 – $35,000
Sold for $73,636 (inc. BP) in Auction 70 - 27 July 2022, Melbourne

Kenneth Pleban, a gift from the artist in 1998 
Leonard Joel, Melbourne, 8 August 2000, lot 135 (as ‘Suburbia’) 
The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, Melbourne, acquired from the above


Colour and Movement, Benalla Art Gallery, Victoria, 19 February – 9 June 2016
on long term loan to Newcastle Art Gallery, New South Wales, prior to 2006
on long term loan to Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria 


Nainby, B., Stanhope, Z., and Furlonger, K., The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, in association with Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 17, 175 (illus.), 212
Howard Arkley Online Catalogue Raisonné: [https://www.arkleyworks.com/blog/2012/05/05/dull-home-1998-wp/] (accessed 7/03/22) 

Catalogue text

‘The day I came back, I realised what I needed to do: I was Australian and had to deal with that. This sounds like something Sidney Nolan might have said in 1945, but it’s true. I was astounded because, like many other artists, I had denied it. I had left the suburbs never to return…’1

Although he dabbled in abstraction and tackled other subject matter, from freeways to shadow factories, it is the suburban home that remains Howard Arkley’s singular legacy. He was obsessed with capturing his immediate environs, no matter how mundane his apparent source material. Using an airbrush, Arkley created individual scenes of homes and their interiors utilising psychedelic colours and outlining suggestive of graffiti. The vivid, implausible hues of his palette and the tell-tale out of focus black outlines, hark back to the fetishism of custom painting and yet also heavily allude to street art vandalism. Both streams take the everyday object and amplify and distort it thus elevating it to a cult like status. Dull Home, 1998 captures the appeal of Arkley’s oeuvre succinctly. 

When the Melbourne-based artist was launched internationally with his ‘Howard Arkley: The Home Show’ at the Australian Pavilion for the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 it was an instant hit, a blazing contrast to the largely dour offerings otherwise on show. Arkley’s imagery was immediately recognisable and relatable, clearly a celebration, a clarion call to the minutiae of our built environments and everyday existence. 

Today Arkley’s work is held in a number of private, public and university collections within Australia including Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; and the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

1. Arkley quoted in Crawford, A., & Edgar, R., Spray: The Work of Howard Arkley, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1997, p. 26