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Ruth Lowe, InteriorTitle
Interior

Location
In storage

Place of origin
New South Wales, Australia

Media
Painting

Medium
Acrylic

Credit
Winner Calleen Award 1979

Accession number
CAL1979

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Ruth Lowe was born in Berlin in 1923 and migrated to Australia (Sydney) in 1938. She began her working life as a milliner before embarking on art studies at the National Art School at East Sydney Technical College in 1959. She also studied with Maximilian Feuerring from 1966 to 1968. She only began exhibiting in 1970 (Woollahra Gallery) but continued her art up to her death. She exhibited in a number of prizes and an example of her work related to the Calleen work can be seen at the Grafton Regional Gallery. That work Ivy (1981) was a prize winner in the Jacaranda Art Prize and was gifted to the Gallery by the Jacaranda Art Society in 1988. The 1979 Calleen Prize exhibited 61 works from artists again principally from the central west of New South Wales but also from Sydney, Wollongong, Armidale, Temora and Wagga Wagga. Lowe is listed in the catalogue as living in Castle Hill, Sydney. As with the previous exhibitions landscapes predominate and I would suggest that that would be the case for most exhibitions held in Australia outside the metropolitan centres. The judge Lucy Hertz was Head Teacher of Art and Design at the Gymea campus of the National Art School. She came with no predisposition towards any particular style(s).

The winning work Interior is a cleverly nuanced work blending (hyper-) realistic renditions of a curtain and an electrical cord and outlet set within the corner of a room. The geometries of the interior space are sharp and clear while the sweeping gestural folds of the curtain create a feeling of movement in the otherwise very still(-ed) space. The rich teal of the curtain sits in high contrast with the muted palette of the walls and ceiling. The beginnings of a window against the far right of the picture plane insert another linear component that is nicely contrasted with the perpendicularity of the electrical cord that moves up the corner of the room into the ceiling. The consequent loop created by the drop of the cord from the ceiling is another playful compositional component that echoes the folds of the curtain. This is a clever picture that plays with the elision of the abstract and the real. Moving beyond its surface appeal we are also confronted with the spiritual and the metaphysical. Realism as philosophical statement is conveyed through Lowe’s control of means and understanding of end.