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suzanne archerTitle
Billy’s Attic

In storage

Place of origin
New South Wales, Australia



Winner Calleen Award 1987

Accession number

Excerpt from The Calleen Collection by Peter Haynes (2019)

Suzanne Archer was born in England in 1945 and arrived in Australia in 1965. Before coming to Australia she studied from 1961 to 1964 at the Sutton School of Art. Since 1969 she has held a prolific number of solo exhibitions including most recently Suzanne Archer: the alchemy of the studio at the Macquarie University Art Gallery in 2016. She has also appeared in many group exhibitions in Australia and the People’s Republic of China including at the Tianjin Meijiang Art Gallery (2014) and the Beijing Art Space (2012). Her work is in major collections throughout Australia including the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Galley of New South Wales, and the National Gallery of Victoria. Among her many awards and prizes are the Dobell Prize for Drawing (2010), the Kedumba Drawing Award (2010), the Wynne Prize (1994) and the Faber-Castell Prize for Drawing (1985).

Archer’s work from the 1980s is characterised by an immediacy, energy and a pictorial vocabulary that has a primitive energy to it. Billy’s Attic has the protagonist standing in the centre of the image surrounded by the paraphernalia that populate his attic room. The figure is childlike in the simplicity of the drawing, a simplicity reinforced by the subversion of any attempt at real perspective. The idiosyncratic spatial configuration adopted by the artist allows her to display all Billy’s things so that they are immediately visible to the viewer, laid out as though we are viewing them aerially. Figure and objects are outlined in black then coloured-in in a manner that again reinforces the directness and simplicity that Archer embraces. There is of course a good dose of the graphic qualities of much Expressionist art and there is hovering in the background the recent revival of Expressionist modes in painting that informed much contemporary art in Europe, the United States and Australia in the late 1970s and 1980s. Archer’s art historical references however are held lightly in favour of the expression of her own stylistic language. This is a rich and vital work, energetic and embracing in the power of its visual directness.