Ian Fairweather (1891 – 1974) was a Scottish painter who became a long term resident of Australia and spend his latter years living as a hermit on Bribie Island. He is considered one of Australia’s most outstanding artists of the mid-20th Century.

During the 1930s and 40s, Ian Fairweather travelled extensively in Canada, China, Indonesia and Australia. In 1934 he exhibited at Cynthia Reed’s gallery in Melbourne, before spending two years in China. By 1938 Ian Fairweather returned to Australia and was living among the local Aboriginal community near Cairns, where he moved from oil painting to gouache.

During the Second World War, Ian Fairweather was stationed in India; however, he continued to exhibit work in London where he became widely known, with his paintings acquired by the Tate Gallery. From 1949 he regularly exhibited at Macquarie Galleries in Sydney, where his work impacted local artists.

1952 was a turning point for Ian Fairweather, when undertook a sixteen-day journey by raft from Darwin to Roti, Indonesia, during which time he nearly perished. Held by Indonesian authorities for three months, he was deported to England vista Singapore. Back in England he worked as a labour to raise the money to come back to Australia eventually settling on Bribie Island.

A reclusive individual, Ian Fairweather successful combining western, Asian and Aboriginal art influences to produce layered calligraphic compositions, often verging on the abstract. ‘His distinctive layerings of gesture and colour enfold a search for existence channeled through an obsessive aesthetic meditation that haunted his entire career.’1 Working on the recurring subject of people, he produced a style of art, reminiscent of the American Abstract Expressionist.

Ian Fairweather often used the cheapest materials, such as cardboard or newspaper and poor quality paints. Many of his works were lost or damaged on Bribie Island, due to the effects of the climate and Ian Fairweather’s living condition.

He is represented in all state galleries in Australia, the Tate Gallery, London, City Gallery, Leicester, and the Ulster Museum, Belfast.

Painting to me is something of a tightrope act; it is between representation and the other thing – whatever that is. It is difficult to keep one’s balance.

Ian Fairweather 19631

 Resident, John A Robinson, comments:

I remember Ian Fairweather in the late 60s early 70s when I was a high school student in Brisbane, Ian Fairweather was talked about as an important artist who lived on Bribie Island. His art was discussed in our classroom. One of my regrets is that we never meet..

Submitted by John A Robinson. Content from Wikipedia and the Art Gallery NSW website1.

Ian Fairweather – Last Supper