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Daphne O'brien, Tribal LandsTitle
Tribal Lands

Location
In storage

Place of origin
New South Wales, Australia

Media
Painting

Medium
Acrylic

Credit
Co-winner Calleen Award 1981

Accession number
CAL1981-1

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Daphne O’Brien was born in 1923 in Wellington, New South Wales. She is cited in the 1991 edition of Max Germaine’s A Dictionary of Women Artists of Australia but further published information on her career is scarce. From the catalogue we know that she was living in St lves on Sydney’s Upper North Shore when she entered the Calleen Prize.

Of the 68 exhibited works the great majority was in oil and landscape remains the most popular genre. O’Brien’s work, Tribal Lands, depicts a rock face in an essentially realist mode. The face is broken up into geometric shapes (squares and rectangles) that animate the picture plane and provide formal contrast to the calligraphic foliage and cascading stream that move across the picture plane. Their organic forms and intimation of slow but inevitable movement further contrast with the static solidity of the rock wall and the air of mystery it commands. The element of mystery is further underscored by the dark palette. The darkness imparts a shadowy veil that covers the pictorial surface. The veil works aesthetically and metaphorically and injects an air of melancholy, a quiet allusion to the inhabitants of the lands of the title.