Guy Grey-Smith AM was a West Australian painter, printmaker and ceramicist. He pioneered modernism in Western Australia and has been described as one of Australia’s most significant artists of the 20th century.
Guy Grey-Smith was born in Wagin, Western Australia in 1916. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1936, transferring to the RAF and moving to England where he saw service during the Battle of France. His plane was shot down, he was captured, spending the rest of the war as a POW at Stalag Luft III. It was here that he explored his interest in art, with materials his wife Helen, whom he had married in 1939, sent him. He contracted tuberculosis and, as a consequence, was repatriated to the UK in 1944 for treatment, which included art therapy.
In 1945, he began studying at the Chelsea School of Art. He attended the school until 1947, learning from Ceri Richards, Robert Medley and Henry Moore. He and Helen returned to Western Australia and set up a pottery studio at their home in Darlington.
In 1952, his tuberculosis recurred, and upon recovery eight months later, he and Helen moved back to London. Grey-Smith studied fresco painting at the Central School of Art and Crafts under Louis le Brocquy until 1954. Upon their return to Australia, Grey-Smith worked for the Education Department and Art Gallery before journeying across the Nullarbor and to the north-west of Western Australia, which inspired his work.
He formed the Perth Group in the late 1950s with fellow artists Robert Juniper Brian McKay, Tom Gibbons and Maurice Stubbs. The group’s aim was to promote European modernism, which was not yet accepted in Australia. Grey-Smith was influenced by Cezanne, English constructionist painters, Nicolas de Stael and the Western Australian landscape. He travelled throughout the state, including The Kimberley, Pilbara, Goldfields and South West regions, drawing and making notes in order to produce larger works back in his studio.
In 1966, Grey-Smith became inaugural president of the Contemporary Art Society. (WA Branch).
He won the Perth Prize for best Western Australian entry in 1955 and 1963, and the Perth Prize in 1964 In 1959, he was awarded the Murdoch Prize, and the Robin Hood Art Prize in 1962.
He received the St George’s Cathedral Prize in 1966 and 1967, and the Walter Murdoch Prize in 1967 and 1968.
Grey-Smith was honoured with a Special Distinguished Artist and Scholar Grant from the Australia Council for the Arts in 1973 and an Order of Australia in 1981.
He died at the age of 65 from a recurrence of tuberculosis, in August 1981.
He exhibited at numerous Galleries including Brummels Gallery, Melbourne; Whitechapel Gallery London; Art Gallery of Western Australia; The University of WA; Tim Olsen Gallery, Sydney and numerous exhibitions at the now defunct Goddard de Fiddes Gallery, West Perth numerous times
Reference : Biographical details courtesy of Wikipedia