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98th Annual Exhibition.Melbourne 20

A brief history (taken from the TMPS website):

“The group first began after the tumultuous annual Presidential election of the Victorian Artists Society in 1918. After his defeat, incensed Max Meldrum supporters called a special meeting to debate the issue. Angry words aroused the opposition leader’s wife so much that she swiped one of the ‘Meldrumites’ with her umbrella. And this in an age when etiquette ruled all! Newspapers were full of the story at the time, but what followed made Australian art history.
The Meldrum supporters split from the Victorian Artists Society (VAS) and immediately regrouped at his studio in Hardware Chambers, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne. With plenty of impassioned principles and similar ideas on painting, they formed their own exhibiting group, calling themselves ‘The Society of Twenty Melbourne Painters’. Less than a year later in 1919, the breakaway group held their first exhibition. At a later date in their history, the name of the society changed to ‘The Twenty Melbourne Painters Society’, as we know it today. Their determination in founding and consequent loyalty to the group ensured its success. Since that turbulent beginning the group has maintained its identity, though affairs with the ‘Vics’ became peaceful again to the point where the group of twenty held their annual exhibitions in the historic Victorian Artists Society premises in Albert Street, East Melbourne. Rivalry became a thing of the past.

While members of the society have always been skilled artists, some reached an almost ‘star’ status among the wider community. Sir William Dargie C.B.E., O.B.E., painted the famous ‘Wattle’ portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II during six two-hour sittings at Buckingham Palace in 1954. Reproductions of this well-known portrait hang in many public institutions; the original is in Parliament House, Canberra.

Another name from the society’s past still very relevant today is Alice Bale. Miss A.M.E. Bale, one of the original breakaway members, held the position of Secretary until her death. Her ‘Will’ included a bequest which established a scholarship bearing her name and encouraging representational art. The Alice Bale Art Award is today considered a highly prestigious prize, perhaps the most esteemed in representational painting in Australia, which confers not only honour and recognition upon the recipient. The award includes a Travelling Scholarship which enables Australian artists to study the works of the Old Masters abroad. The judging held biennially, of the A.M.E. Bale Travelling Scholarship and associated prizes for oil and watercolour, is the allotted task of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society. It is a responsibility taken seriously, with up to three days consideration on the selection and judging of submitted works.

Other highly respected names from the group’s history include Reshid Bey, Ernest Buckmaster, Rupert Bunny, Ron Crawford, William Frater O.B.E., Harold Herbert, Sir John Longstaff, and Clarice Beckett. There are others too numerous to mention who have all been an important part of the Australian artistic community.

Despite the emphasis on tradition, it is important not to align The Twenty Melbourne Painters Society with strict adherence to a particular style of painting. The tradition is for quality: that the group supports high standards of craftsmanship within the framework of representational tonal painting, that they consolidate and improve the quality of traditional art, and that they promote fellowship among painters in the community. In nurturing high standards of work through professional painting, teaching and judging, they ensure that these qualities are passed on to current and future artists.

The framework of representational art encompasses a realism that depicts with dignity and respect for the subject, the exquisite detail in the pottery and cloth of a still life, as well as vibrant impressionistic works where the exhilaration of a vast panorama may be shown with seemingly casual strokes of a brush.

Few artistic societies last as long, or have been as consistent with their aims as the Twenty Melbourne Painters. Any society with a 97 year history can feel justifiably proud of its existence. It also has a rare exclusivity, as membership of the Twenty Melbourne Painters is by invitation only. When a position becomes available through resignation or natural attrition, a painstaking search is undertaken to find a suitable painter to be invited to fill the vacancy. Artists feel honoured to be invited, and members feel privileged to be part of a group so recognised within the Australian art world.”


I have been a member of this society for the past 24 years. I am very proud to present to you my paintings for this years exhibition. The paintings are watercolours done in the alla prima method using confident brush strokes with sensitivity and intellect. There is no correction and they are done spontaneously with maximum effect using sure and swift brushstrokes. It is difficult to do and requires a total understanding of the medium. These are also tonal impressionist paintings, relying on the light to do all the work rather than colour. Hence the muted down appearance as the paint is mixed always with a base colour such as burnt sienna or sepia rather than straight out of the tube. This way of painting is the ultimate in expressive art and does not follow rules nor lines. There are many negative areas where the painting is created by using what is not there. Thought must be used to work this out spontaneously as the painting is created. When this is flowing, real art is happening.
Please enjoy these paintings which are currently on display at the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society at the Glen Eira Town Hall until the 31 st July.