An extraordinary opportunity to see the works of iconic South Australian artist and writer Barbara Hanrahan (1939-1991), including limited editions and artist proofs.


Barbara Hanrahan was born and grew up in Adelaide. After gaining her Diploma in Art Teaching, she studied at the South Australian School of Art and then went to London in 1963 to study printmaking at the Central School of Art. She ran out of money in 1964 and came back to lecture at the South Australian School of Art. When she returned to London in 1965 to continue her printmaking studies at the Central School of Art she met Jo Steel, with whom she shared an intensely close and complementary relationship for the rest of her life. Having decided not to have children, they were able to travel extensively and dedicate themselves to their creative activities.


During her life, Barbara Hanrahan made more than four hundred different prints, as well as a great many paintings. She had over thirty solo exhibitions and took part in numerous group exhibitions. She is represented in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, and most state and regional galleries. She lectured in art in England at Falmouth School of Art and Portsmouth College of Art, and in Adelaide at Western Teachers College, South Australian School of Art, Salisbury College of Advanced Education and Torrens College of Art.


She published fifteen books, many being translated in to other languages. Her final book, Michael and Me and the Sun, was completed in hospital just before her death. Written under great physical hardship, it is an autobiographical work she felt compelled to write. It covers the first period she spent in London at the Central School of Art in 1963 and 1964.


An extract from an interview with Barbara Hanrahan, recorded in London by Elsebeth Austin in 1985, for a degree thesis on Barbara Hanrahan’s novels at Copenhagen University:


Barbara Hanrahan:


“I do see the flowers as a mystical or a religious thing, I mean the whole old idea of the garden as a spiritual religious place, the symbolic gardens of the Bible of Medieval poems as in the Elizabethan poets. I love reading some of that early poetry.


When I was about 15 or 16, I used to copy down all the early Elizabethan poets into books. There are lots and lots of flowers in those poems and they just refresh me. If you get close to them and stare at them, it is so beautiful. It is a sort of paradise world with all the man-made things pushing against them and there is this contrast between those two things.


I like layers of things and I like contrast of things: where you think you are looking at something straight on and really you’re looking at it sideways, and maybe the thing is even looking at you, as for instance the whole world of flowers: the world you are walking upon, that you can sort of squash and tread on, is the flowers’ world and not just the world you see as nothing.


The whole fragility of that beautiful world is very strange to me, and to think that these things are just growing out of the earth – to me that is a spiritual world.”