Roland Shakespeare Wakelin: Part Two

It is very rare that we get the opportunity to talk to an art collector and to learn more about the personal involvement and passion which drives such an interest. Today we continue our review of paintings created by Australian artist Roland Wakelin with the help of our team member Andrew from the Hunter Valley Region of New South Wales who owns these paintings and many, many more created by different artists over the years.

First let us have a closer look at the paintings by Roland Wakelin which are in the Collection owned by Andrew.

Roland Wakelin wasn't always inclined to give his paintings titles and these titles have been given by the auction rooms where they went on sale.

The first is Harbour Foreshore painted in oil on board, 25x33cm, with the signature R Wakelin in the lower left corner.

Harbour Foreshore by Roland Wakelin (From the Collection of Andrew from the Hunter Valley Region of New South Wales)

There can be no doubt that Wakelin loved the foreshore around Sydney and as he lived quite close to the water this subject matter was easily to hand.

Roland Wakelin a New Zealander by birth was influenced by the work of Gauguin, Cezanne and van Gogh from his visits to the UK and Europe and on return experimented with his love for a sense of place and the use of colour, light and atmosphere in his art. 1

The painting above from Andrew's collection is an excellent example of Wakelin's skill and passion for using colour, light and atmosphere to capture the simple essence of a scene.

You can see the use of a similar palette and umber tones in the second of the Wakelin paintings purchased by Andrew. And again the use of light is dominant from the foreground focus to the background darkness. This contrasting light features of many of the Wakelin paintings.

Still life with jars by Roland Wakelin (From the Collection of Andrew from the Hunter Valley Region of New South Wales)

Still Life with Jars (above) was created in oil on canvas on board 29.5 x 39.5 cm (frame: 36 x 46 x 3 cm) and signed in the lower left.

Wakelin painted numerous still life compositions featuring this contrasting play with light and most often using the umber and red tones in his palette.

Andrew's third Wakelin painting has a special place in his heart which we will come to in a moment.

Family out at Richmond Park was painted in 1959 when Wakelin was living in the United Kingdom. The painting is done in oil on board 23x31 cm with a frame of 37x45x3cm and is signed and dated.

Family out at Richmond Park (London) 1959 by Roland Wakelin (From the Collection of Andrew from the Hunter Valley Region of New South Wales)

Andrew would like to share a personal and poignant story associated with this painting. Andrew explains to us that:

Richmond Park is also the home to White Lodge, the Royal Ballet School where young hopefuls go, not only to be academically trained, but also with the aim and desire of progressing to the Royal Ballet Company.

My late wife Pat was one of those students there in 1959 when Roland Wakelin painted this painting. Pat went on to dance with the Royal Ballet Company and also the Opera Ballet at Covent Garden.

Below is a photograph of White Lodge taken in 2009.

White Lodge from the air in 2009 (Photo by Mandy Barry-Cades/ CC BY-SA 2.0/ File:White Lodge, Richmond Park, Richmond - - 1304585.jpg/Created: 1 May 2009)

It is always very interesting to learn how a person becomes a Collector and we are so lucky in being able to learn first hand from Andrew where his passion began and how this interest was influenced by his reactions to two very different artists, one of which was Roland Wakelin.

I'll let Andrew tell his story.

I was given a book on Banjo Patterson poetry as a Christmas present in 1982. I loved his poetry then and still do.

However I was mesmerised by the accompanying pictures illustrating the poems by an artist who I had never heard of called Pro Hart.

Up to that point in time wild horses couldn't have dragged me into an art gallery, and yet within a few very short weeks, using whatever means I could, credit card, savings and a small loan from my father I had purchased a Pro Hart painting.

I should point out that I was probably one of the only people in Australia to have never heard of this person Pro Hart at the time.

The Diverting History of John Gilbert by Kevin Charles (Pro) Hart © (Credit: from the collection of Andrew from the Hunter Region of New South Wales)

Andrew goes on to explain that Wakelin's paintings in the Art Gallery of New South Wales resonated very strongly with me in the early 1980s. It was Roland Wakelin who opened my eyes to looking at paintings other than those of Pro Hart which had first attracted me to the world of painting.

I never ever expected to own a Wakelin painting because to me paintings from this era by such influential artists were only meant to be seen in major State and National Galleries.

As you can see the three Wakelin paintings I own are quite different but that just shows the versatility of Roland Wakelin.

That was the beginning of my passion and perhaps some might say obsession with art. To this day whatever town or city I happen to be in, one of my first ports of call is their regional or state gallery and I can't ever see that changing.

Andrew wants to conclude this post with two relevant and significant pieces of information.

The Archive Department of the Art Gallery of New South Wales is a wonderful resource, not only for the information at their fingertips tips but that they make it readily available to anybody doing some research.

When you have time please follow the Bookmark link below to the National Art Archive/Art Gallery of NSW which was the first state gallery in the country to establish an archive and we are one of the few Australian institutions today collecting, preserving and making available for research primary material on Australian visual art.2

The files in our National Art Archive now document around 40,000 Australian artists and include over a million items, such as catalogues and exhibition reviews.2

National Art Archive | Art Gallery of NSW

Andrew was very chuffed that the archives had so much information on Roland Wakelin and he has this to add to get you all thinking a little more, especially those of you interested in the development of the art scene in Australia:

I Thought that I'd throw this little tidbit in about how I see the Roland Wakelin style of art along with the other Australian contemporaries of the time.

I see this group of artists, those who produced works in the first half of the last century as being heavily influenced by the Impressionists and perhaps more so by the Post Impressionists in introducing more vibrant and vivid colours into their paintings when compared to the well known Heidelberg School of artists before them, much the same as happened in Europe with the Impressionist and Post Impressionists.

I'm sure that I'm not the first to think along these lines nor will I be the last.

Roland Wakelin had many influences on the Sydney art scene as he taught and exhibited throughout his 50 year career. Together with De Maistre and Cossington-Smith he is regarded as a founding member of the modern movement in Sydney. – “…art should possess balance (it) should be a cosmos, the total of whose parts make a unity.” – Wakelin (1919) 1

And if you have become really hooked on Roland Wakelin's style you can check out more of his paintings by following the bookmark link below.

Works matching “Roland Wakelin” | Art Gallery of NSW

Andrew has introduced and expanded our knowledge and appreciation of many artists most importantly those created by iconic Australian naive artist Hugh Schulz. Please use the search tool on the menu at the top of this post if you would like to see the AnArt4Life past posts on Andrew's collection of paintings created by Hugh Schulz.

And now, again thanks to Andrew's passion for art - coming up soon will be a series of posts arising again from Andrew's Art Collection - this time we will review works by Australian artist Johanna Hildebrandt.

Johanna's journey as an artist is fascinating and inspiring and so do please keep an eye out for this series which is planned for late February.