The annual Dobell Prize aimed to encourage excellence in drawing and draughtsmanship among Australian artists.
Held annually from 1993 to 2012, it was initiated by the Art Gallery of NSW and the trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation (established from the estate of Australian artist William Dobell).
Jennifer Keeler-Milne has been selected as a finalist for nine exhibitions.
Each year the foundation’s trustees invited a guest – often an artist – to judge this open competition, and finalists were displayed in an exhibition at the Gallery. The winning work automatically became part of the Gallery’s collection, and over the years a small selection of finalist works were also acquired. Together these form the Dobell Australian Drawing Collection.
What constitutes a drawing was deliberately not outlined in the conditions of entry. This flexible approach ensured a great variety of drawings were submitted, ranging from those made using materials traditionally associated with drawing (pencil, pen and ink, charcoal etc) to those that are part of contemporary practice (including pastel, watercolour and collage).
Shibuya lights, 2011 1460x2630 charcoal on paper
Finalist: Dobell Prize for Drawing 2011
Lumiere, 2010 charcoal on paper 114x238cm
Finalist: Dobell Prize for Drawing 2010
Lumiere is from a series of drawings that explore illumination and the refraction of artificial light. A glowing chandelier in Notre Dame, a carousel, a halo, the street lights of Beijing have all been elements of exploration.
Making a drawing is the challenge of creating an elusive and transitory moment. Making the intangible, tangible. I use the sparest of materials: charcoal, a knead-able eraser and heavy Arches paper.
My large drawings have been entered into the Dobell prize since 1999. This is the 7th drawing that has been chosen for exhibition.
Journey on, 2006 charcoal on paper 100x280cm
Finalist: Dobell Prize for Drawing 2006
For me, making a drawing is about the challenge of creating an elusive and transitory moment. Making the intangible, tangible. I use the sparest of materials: charcoal, a knead-able eraser and heavy Arches paper. The large scale seeks to envelop the viewer in a moment of contemplation.
Journey on is part of a series of large drawings that have been entered into the Dobell prize since 1999. This is the 6th drawing that has been chosen for exhibition. In these drawings I have sought to create a range of atmospheric effects of the sky that lie somewhere between figuration and abstraction.
Siri Hustvedt in her essay titled ‘Yonder’, describes yonder being a place between here and there. I would also like to think that yonder is the space of the picture plane - where imagination, memories and associations reside. It takes us somewhere else, which is not here and not there.
The title, Journey on is a metaphor for both the creative process and life itself.
This drawing is dedicated to the memory of Beth Milne, my mother who passed away earlier this year.
State of flowering, 2004 charcoal on paper 100 x 280cm
Finalist: Dobell Prize for drawing, 2005
Surrender II, 2003 charcoal on paper 100x250cm
Finalist: Dobell Drawing Prize 2003
‘Surrender II' is the fourth work in a series of large scale charcoal drawings which have been exhibited in the Dobell drawing prize. This is the largest of the drawings that have been entered.
Each drawing has taken the sky with a focus upon cloud formations as its central subject matter. This has been an ongoing preoccupation of my drawing and painting works for the last seven years. The challenge or inspiration is the endeavour of capturing the elusive fibrous substance of clouds, the play of light and dark and the atmospheric conditions of the clouds and sky.
Working on a large scale with charcoal also provides other challenges and satisfactions. Using charcoal on the white slightly textured Arches paper gives an opportunity for exploring tone and texture with immediacy. Furthermore it is a chance to experiment with the atmospheric effects that lie somewhere between figuration and abstraction.
Like most landscape artists' my work is ultimately a product of both observation and imagination.
Fearfully and wonderfully made, 2001
Finalist: Dobell Prize for Drawing 2001
‘Fearfully and wonderfully made’ is the third work in a series of large scale charcoal drawings which have been exhibited in the Dobell drawing prize. Each drawing has taken the sky as its central subject matter, which has been a preoccupation of my work for the last five years. The changing nature of the fibrous substance of clouds, the play of light and dark and movement continue to sustain my interest in this subject matter.
Working on a large scale with charcoal also provides particular challenges and satisfaction. Using charcoal on the white slightly textured Arches paper gives an opportunity for exploring tone and texture with immediacy and furthermore a chance to play with the composition and create atmospheric effects which lie somewhere between figuration and abstraction.
The horizontal format of the drawing continues the format used in last year’s drawing (Visibility/Invisibility). This shape alludes to the Chinese scroll, and its purpose, that of being a work of art and a focus for contemplation.
Like the other drawings in this series, the title is taken from a literary source.
This title, ‘Fearfully and wonderfully made’ is a Biblical quote from Pslam 139.
Visibility/Invisibility, 2000 72.5x260cm charcoal on paper
Jennifer Keeler-Milne studied at the Melbourne College of Advanced Education from 1979-82 and completed post-graduate studies in painting at the Victorian College of the Arts (University of Melbourne) in 1991. She has exhibited since 1984 and was resident at the AGNSW's atelier at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, 1999.
Somewhat reminiscent of John Constable's remarkable cloud studies (except in size), Jennifer Keeler Milne's drawings of clouds are sophisticated and carefully observed. Her clouds have substance and presence, or great lightness and transparency suggestive of changing weather conditions, space and atmosphere.
This work was exhibited in the Dobell Drawing Prize 2000 held at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This work was acquired by the Gallery in 2000.
Clouds of Fermentation - study, 1999
Finalist: Dobell prize for Drawing 1999
The title of the drawing Clouds of Fermentation-study was inspired by the Swedish playwright and painter August Strindberg’s piece of writing entitled Time of Fermentation: “Do not fear the storm clouds? Look at the sky. There is a crack up there, in the black prison wall. Do you see how the blue sky opens up beyond? Courage and hope, and faith, soon it will open and clear before your eyes, and you will soar like the seagull that is now describing circles above your head…”
In October 1821, the English artist John Constable told his friend John Fisher that he had ‘done a good deal of skying’. This too has been my preoccupation for the last two years; observing, drawing and painting the changing skycapes, predominantly of the south coast of NSW. Like most landscape painters my work is ultimately a product of both observation and imagination. In the drawing Clouds of Fermentation-study my aim was to capture a sense of movement, drama and air using the charcoal and white ground of the paper to imitate and evoke the elusive substance of cloud matter.