Janet McBride gave a spirited artist talk on the life and work of her Great Uncle Oscar Binder, a Viennese trained portrait artist who came to Australia in the last quarter of the nineteenth century following a successful career as portrait painter in London. Janice sketched for her audience Binder’s family life and times in late Victorian Melbourne and to lend strength to her talk she had prepared a digital format family photo album, and this proved to lead to much interest and many comments from the floor. Oscar Binder was classically-trained and this shows in an amazing set of drawings which despite attack by moisture that passed from hand to hand during Janice’s presentation. Delicately rendered, fully realized nudes seemed to have an almost water colour appearance and sensibility about them. However, it would appear that Oscar Binder’s etchings, which Janice re-editioned from copper plates she managed to find and guard, were jewels of printmaking. Lovingly wiped, ultimately with the ball of the hand, the etchings sprang to life and to this member of Janice’s audience, it seemed a wonderful link with a past, a past of art practice which in some ways seems to have withered, perhaps looked on as quaint these days, yet when restored to their beauty by a craftsperson with great artistic sensibility. Oscar Binder’s work breathed once again. We members of the HAS have an enormous reservoir of talent in our midst, and the artist talk program for the full eleven months hopefully will have more participation because they are a very important benefit of membership. Furthermore non-member friends and professional associates are heartily welcomed.
Words by: Phil Kreveld