Primordial Garden


This painting was done in the Warriewood studio and was Coburn’s largest painting at that time being over three and a half meters long. It is painted on three masonite panels, each over 120cm wide. The studio was a converted garage joined to the house and was Coburn’s first major studio. He was also at the time teaching at East Sydney Tech, part time.

The germination of this work started in a conversation with his wife Barbara, whom he had met at art school. She was his muse and major helpmate in his career. He was ruminating about what to paint and she told him to paint a garden. She was a keen gardener and an artist herself. Primordial Garden sprang directly from that conversation. It hung in the Sir John Sulman Prize at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1965 however didn’t win. The consolation for Coburn was that it was bought by the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne through a Felton Bequest, in 1968.

The painting was the first in Coburn’s lifelong themes of Nature, the Landscape and the Garden.

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