2011

2011, the 60th anniversary of Arkley’s birth, was also marked by the death of his mother Gwen, early in May. Since her son’s death, she had championed his cause in various quarters, culminating in the establishment of a prize in his memory (for details, see 2010).

During the year, arrangements were finalized for the acquisition by the State Library of Victoria of the Arkley archive: for details, see now 2012.

Individual works by (or claimed to be by) Arkley continued to appear on the secondary art market and at auction during 2011, although – as usual since 2000 – they varied substantially in quality and significance.

Two notable works – both securely documented prior to 1999 – were auctioned by Mossgreen, Melbourne, on 31 May (many thanks to Alison Renwick of Mossgreen for discussing these works with me; for her auction catalogue entries, see bibliography: Renwick 2011). Untitled ['House with Tree'] (c.1995-6) [W/P], a good example of the artist’s mature monochrome and stencilling style, is documented by a work-in-progress photo in the Arkley archive (until the Mossgreen auction, the only image available). Recording (Wave Study) 1976 (originally listed in this catalogue under 1977), was previously known only through its appearance in Arkley’s solo show at the Coventry Gallery in May 1977. The remarkable re-appearance of this characteristic ‘white’ canvas after 34 years was unfortunately tarnished somewhat by its mediocre condition – the work is clearly in need of restoration.

During the year, various other ‘new’ works surfaced without any supporting documentation pre-dating 1999; accordingly, none of these works is included in the present catalogue (pending the provision of adequate documentation).

A new library in the northern Melbourne suburb of Avondale Heights, completed early in 2011, featured an idiosyncratic architectural tribute to Arkley. The graphic, brightly coloured façade of the building, designed by emerging firm H20 Architects, includes a ‘quote’ from the window detailing typical of many of Arkley’s suburban house compositions. A feature article on the library in Monument magazine discussed the architects’ ambition to refer to both the local suburban fabric, and also the Melbourne tradition of engaging with the ’burbs, exemplified by Barry Humphries, Arkley and others (see bibliography under Norman Day & others 2011; see also Crafti 2011). H20 Architects’ project also represented a contemporary variant of the outer suburban architectural aesthetic pioneered by Maggie Edmond & Peter Corrigan in their mid 1970s designs in the south-eastern Melbourne suburb of Keysborough (for detailed discussion, see Conrad Hamann, Cities of Hope: Australian Architecture and Design by Edmond and Corrigan, Melbourne: Oxford University Press, 2003). In turn, this architectural tradition interested Arkley (for the Corrigan-Arkley connection, refer e.g. Carnival, pp. 9, 141 etc.).

December saw the official launch of a series of five high quality reproductions of major works by Arkley, released by Kalli Rolfe Contemporary Art. Each numbered example is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity. The five works reproduced are House with Native Tree [aka Established Garden] 1996, Nick Cave (1999), Riteroom (1998), Triple Fronted 1987 and Zappo Head 1987 [Bendigo].

Exhibitions

‘Boundary Line’, TarraWarra Museum of Art, 6 Aug. – 2 Oct.2011 (curated by Anthony Fitzpatrick)