Entering the house—

Howard Arkley
Australian home 1993
Acrylic on canvas
175 x 255 cm
Purchased by Hamilton Gallery Trust Fund with assistance from VRGAFTF to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Trust Fund. Hamilton Gallery Collection
© Howard Arkley/Copyright Agency, 2021.
Chris O’Brien
Mr Grumpy’s House (he is blue and he has a green hat) 2018
Acrylic paint, cotton, foam, thread, pins and wool
30 x 50 x 31 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Arts Project Australia, Melbourne

Howard Arkley’s vivid paintings of houses, imagined through a vibrant Pop-art palette and sensibility, are compelling landscapes of suburbia and emblems of the ‘Great Australian Dream’ of home ownership. While Arkley’s paintings are notable in their lack of identification or specificity, (that is, we never know the residents), Chris O’Brien’s soft sculpture is instead drawn from the artist’s personal life and experience. O’Brien works with repurposed fabrics and materials to recreate houses as sculptures, which can almost be viewed as portraits of the inhabitants. We may never see Mr Grumpy, but through the floral walls and the title of the work we gain an impression of his character.

Rockingham Pottery
Pastille burner cottage – on circular base c. 1830
40.4 x 11.2 cm
Herbert and May Shaw Bequest. Hamilton Gallery Collection

Holly Macdonald Latticework 2020
Terracotta, stained porcelain, porcelain slip, underglaze, ceramic crayon
15 (h) x 25 (di) cm Courtesy of the artist

The Herbert and May Shaw Bequest consists of a broad range of art and antiquities, which reflected the personal taste and interests of the collectors. Over her lifetime, May Shaw amassed a varied collection of Staffordshire porcelain pastille burners, small cottage-shaped objects that housed perfumed pellets, which she displayed on a corner cupboard in her home. While the pastille burner shows the exterior of a house, Holly Macdonald’s ceramic work Latticework shows an interior viewed through a number of cut-outs. This vessel is from a series of works made by the artist in 2020 after searching for new rental properties, and imagines the interior life of prospective new houses and neighbours.