In today's Australian Financial Review:
'Russell Drysdale just had to have the picture. Painted by his friend and neighbour, Bill, it was so strong, a perfect study of character. It portrayed a girl seen playing with an old hoop on a down-at-heel West London street. The work was small, in oils on a piece of plywood, although to Drysdale's professional eye that painting stood out in the exhibition. Barefooted, with a mop of straw coloured hair and in a thin cotton dress, the girl was standing with hands on hips in a truculent display of bad temper.
Drysdale delighted in the paintwork, which was handled with a casual restraint that spoke of much skill. He also couldn't get over how Bill had conveyed the vitality of childhood, especially that pent-up energy of kids about to begin squabbling. Without further thought, Russell Drysdale went over to the person manning the gallery's desk and bought Cockney kid with hoop, a minor masterpiece by William Dobell.
This was in 1942, back when Drysdale and Dobell were barely known – those forgotten glory days of King's Cross bohemia when artists who are now legend were neighbours....'
The Dobell Circle
27/28 May 2017
Christopher Heathcote is the author of Discovering Dobell, published by Wakefield Press, $49.95, and the curator of the exhibition Discovering Dobell, showing concurrently with Dobell's Circle, at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, Victoria, May 27 to August 13, 2017.
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