Bachelor of Fine Arts (Honours) in 1995 and a Master of Fine Arts in 2002 at Monash University
Is it still possible today to paint a contemporary masterpiece in a world awash with conceptual art and multi-media ?
If you are Mary Tonkin the answer is yes, not one but many masterpieces.
Mary is one of Australia’s pre-eminent landscape painters. Her exhibitions at Australia Galleries over the past few years have amazed and thrilled both painters and the general public alike.in
Seeing her work first hand is truly inspiring and it makes you wonder just how on earth does she does it, in work after work.
Her large paintings and masterful drawings show just what’s possible if you’re really prepared to look hard at your subject. Mary’s “looking” is formidable, connecting both observed space and picture plane in perpetual relation.
Techniques honed both here and in New York under Graham Nikson at the New York Studio School culminate in a closely observed and familiar world orchestrated by wonderful painterly colour.
A true painter, her work shows quality and ambition beyond much contemporary achievement.
Mary has been awarded many accolades including the National Gallery of Victoria Trustee award in 1994 and 1995 and Dobell drawing prize in 2002. She was the recipient of the Elizabeth Greenshield foundation grant in 1998 and Australian post-graduate fellowship award in 2000. Tonkin’s work is held by the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, VIC and several regional and tertiary institutions. Mary is also an accomplished teacher. Mary Tonkin’s is a powerful and complete vision. Her achievement ranks in importance along-side Australian masters from the Heidelberg school to Fred Williams. The baton is surely passed and it’s now with Mary.
Words by: Richard Birmingham