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2020 – Tracey Clement,

essay for Art Guide Australia Opening Doors 2020

For more than five decades Lesley Dumbrell has been making her own mark in the male-dominated enclave of geometric abstraction. “I have always said I’m a feminist and I’m very proud of it,” explains the artist. “I think what feminism did for me was liberate my brain to say, ‘You can just do whatever you want. And if you happen to be interested in weird images of patterns, and that happens to be how you think, then, well, go for it.’” And she has, opening doors for both herself and others along the way.  (read full essay…)

1999 – Rachel Kent,

essay for Lesley Dumbrell, Shades of Light 1971 – 1999 (extract from catalogue essay)

Dumbrell is not an artist who invites easy categorisation, Shunning the figurative tradition often associated with representations of Australian national identity, she embraced an international abstract mode with her first one-woman exhibition at Bonython Gallery, Sydney in 1969.  Subsequent exhibitions in both Melbourne and Sydney saw the development of a characteristic style based around abstract geometric form.  As a teacher of art at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and Prahran College of Advanced Education in 1966-1968, Dumbrell taught alongside artists such as peter Booth, James Doolin and Alun Leech-Jones, who had also embraced an abstract painterly aesthetic. (read full essay…)

1987 – Ten by ten 1978 – 1985. 200 Gertrude Street,

Curated by Lesley Dumbrell: Mickey Allan, Howard Arkley, Rosalie Gascoigne, Elizabeth Gower, Dale Hickey, Robert hunter, Bea Maddock, John Nixon, Peter Tyndall, Jenny Watson. (extract from catalogue essay)

Art is shaped by one’s personal sense of time and place.  For all artists there is a moment when a body of work is completed and installed in an exhibition space which remains unique to that particular time and place.  The work is never seen again in the same configuration.  (read full essay…)

1986 – Patrick McCaughey,

Director, National Gallery of Victoria (extract from catalogue essay)

The most striking demonstration of this can be found in Lesley Dumbrell’s watercolours.  No artist of her generation has been a more committed and thoroughgoing abstract painter.  Ever since she emerged as a distinctive artist in the late 1960’s, her work has had the impersonal exhilaration found in the best abstraction of recent years.  Her rhyming compositions which began with strongly optical formats have moved steadily towards a freer, more open way of working. (read full essay…)

1986 – Irena Zdanowicz,

Curator, National Gallery of Victoria (extract from catalogue essay)

Like a kaleidoscope moved slowly Lesley Dumbrell’s art has undergone a variety of transformations which have been surprising yet utterly consistent.  Having discovered early her preference for abstraction, despite a rigorously figurative training, she has explored it with a resoluteness which has been firm but not rigid.  Cezanne, the great exemplar of her RMIT studies, provided to be a misunderstood model for tonal cubistic pastiches based on reproductions rather than the real thing.  However, despite the constant misuse of his example in teaching, Cezanne’s art provided the unseen bit solid foundation for the work of Dumbrell and her contemporaries.  Kandinsky’s theoretical writings, the art of Malevitch and Mondrian were intrinsically interesting to her and they also reinforced the serious nature of abstract painting. (read full essay…)

1979 – James Gleeson interviews major Australian Artists,

National Gallery of Australia Oral History Collection

In the late 1970s Dr James Gleeson AO, Australia’s leading surrealist painter, interviewed 98 Australian artists in their studios to discuss their works that had been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. As an artist, curator, writer and administrator, Gleeson brought a unique perspective to these conversations. The recorded interviews form the basis of a significant resource on Australian visual arts.(listen to the interview with Lesley Dumbrell)

1977 – Patrick McCaughey,

Chairman, Department of Visual Arts, Catalogue for paintings and studies 1967 – 1977 (extract from catalogue essay)

Monash has been most fortunate in securing Lesley Dumbrell as its third Artist-in-Rsidence.  She has become one of the leading younger abstract painters of Melbourne over the last few years and this exhibition portrays the emergence of her present individual style.  She has also been one of the leading and most articular spokeswoman for women artists whose immense contribution to Australian art has only lately begs to be fully acknowledged.  (read full essay…)