Rosalie Gascoigne

Good News, 1997
painted wood on wood
43.7 x 26.1 cm
signed, dated and titled 'Rosalie Gascoigne/1997/GOOD NEWS' (on the reverse)


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The artist
Donated by the artist to the Capital Arts Patron Organisation fundraising auction, Canberra, circa 1998
Private collection, Sydney
Private collection
Christies Contemporary, auction, Melbourne, 25 June 2002, lot. 159
Private collection, Melbourne

A beautiful work by Australian artist Rosalie Gascoigne, imparting at once the tactile physicality of the artist's hands - and equally the perfect frisson of exacting composition: the artist's scrupulous eye.

Quite astonishing on its small scale, this wall piece recalls Daniel Thomas' remembrances 'For Gascoigne the word ''classical'' was almost as talismanic as ''presence''.' (Daniel Thomas, Victoria University Press 2004)

Here she reads the nuances of found shades, tapping into the residual vitality of her material and as with a painter's economy of gesture she assembles. The pallor of this piece is elegant as it is eloquent, in the poetry of the commonplace.

Repetition and use of the grid, standard characters in much Modernist art since the 1960s, are here put to work but given added intensity by Gascoigne's editing process, which invokes the passing of time as an important agency. Her acts of editing and assemblage have, in this work, taken numbers, words and grammatical effects, and smashed them from their syntax as if they were concrete poetic materials. As the City Gallery of Wellington catalogue rightly draws reference, Gascoigne finds kin in the writing of Ezra Pound 'The poem is not language... the translator should convey the energized pattern and let go the words.' (Hugh Kenner, 'The Pound Era', London: Faber & Faber, 1982, p. 150.)

As ever this configuration invites contemplation of the most humble of found materials, which speak of a long line of human experience. It belies the artistic sense of necessity, to create of what Gascoigne responded to daily in the Monaro region near Canberra. 'My art must come out of that.' (Rosalie Gascoigne, 1990)

  • Good News

Image courtesy of the artist's estate and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery

View artist profile

A relative latecomer to the art world, Rosalie Gascoigne made an incredible contribution to Australian landscape. It was only after practicing ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, from 1962 that Gascoigne began to turn seriously towards the visual arts. Beginning with iron assemblages from 1964, in the 1970s she made works from animal bones and found objects from Australian country houses. Her aim there and across her career was to depict the land using materials found upon it, a cycle of reuse that mirrors the diversity of relationships that Australians have with the landscape.

In her late work, Gascoigne moved away from the pure display of found objects into more rigorous compositions. From the 1980s, she began using reflective road signs, incorporating text in a gridlike manner reminiscent of crossword puzzles, a favourite pastime. Originally taking the signs as she found them, she began to become more involved in slicing them herself, producing intricate grids of words resembling parquetry. Armed with these segments of yellow signs, sheets of corrugated iron, linoleum and wood, she produced highly textural works, including many large-scale installations.

Gascoigne was born in 1917 in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated from Auckland University in 1939 and moved to Canberra, ACT in 1943. Her artistic career spanned over 30 years, launched at the age of fifty by the support of the then National Gallery of Australia director, James Mollison. Gascoigne held her last solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney just months before her death in 1999.

In 1982 Gascoigne represented Australia at the 40th Venice Biennale with Peter Booth. Since that time she has been included in many important group exhibitions and solo survey exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand and Europe; such as, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2009); Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2004); Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra (2000), and with the major survey Material as Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1997 touring to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1998). Gascoigne's work is held in every state collection in Australia and many regional collections. Rosalie Gascoigne: A Catalogue Raisonné, was published by ANU Press in 2019, compiled by her son, Martin Gascoigne.