Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith (b. 1892-1984) was born on Cammeraygal Country in New South Wales – growing up in her family’s home at Neutral Bay in Sydney on Gadigal Country before moving to Turramurra on Darug Country where she lived for most of her life. Cossington-Smith was a brilliant colourist and an important figure in the early Modernist art movement in Australia1. Cossington-Smith drew inspiration from her surrounds, painting her home, the landscape, and Sydney city-life. Her works can be characterised by the use of bright expressive colour applied in broad brushstrokes.

Cossington-Smith’s After the fire exists as a first-hand response to the devastation caused by bushfires that swept the surrounding areas of her home in Turramurra, and its aftermath2. Her layered brushstrokes and bands of un-mixed colour render a burnt landscape with signs of new growth, that offer hope and reflection within the cyclic and seasonal patterns in nature. Cossington-Smith’s rhythmic and faceted planes radiate light and energy – the scorched bushland is sprouting new green leaves, the path forward and through, lined by the profusion of lush green grassland that has since re-generated.

  1. Art Gallery of New South Wales, “Artist Profile: Grace Cossington-Smith,” accessed December 14, 2020,
  2. Rodney James, “After the fire,” The Benalla Art Gallery Collection, accessed December 15, 2020,