Ian Fairweather: A Life in Letters

Ian Fairweather: A Life in Letters

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When he died in 1974 after a long period of self-imposed austerity and improvisation on Bribie Island, Queensland, Ian Fairweather was at the apex of his fame. He had been called 'our greatest painter', and his works were keenly sought by galleries, collectors and artists.

Born in 1891 in Scotland, Fairweather had lived a peripatetic life, forever seeking the right place to settle. He was a prodigious and idiosyncratic letter writer-wryly documenting for friends and family members his travels, his struggles with his painting and Chinese translations, and the changing conditions on Bribie, as well as commenting on literature and world affairs.

Seven hundred of the painter's letters are known to be in existence, and in their selection Claire Roberts and John Thompson have created the definitive volume of Fairweather's correspondence- the closest thing to an autobiography of one of Australia's most important and enduring artists. Claire Roberts is an associate professor in art history and an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Melbourne, and has published widely on Chinese art and visual culture, and curated numerous exhibitions. John Thompson is a historian who worked at the National Library of Australia for many years, and the author of The Patrician and the Bloke- Geoffrey Serle and the Making of Australian History. A self-portrait by one of Australia's greatest artists, a man mistakenly portrayed as a hermit.