Here we have “Rottnest” by Guy Grey-Smith (Oil on canvas) from the Tom Collins Bequest Fund, at the University of Western Australia’s art collection on display at the Lawrence Wilson Art Gallery, Perth.
Born in Western Australia in1916, Guy turned to art later in life. The painting’s title “Rottnest” is named after the small island off the Western Australian coast, on the outskirts of the Indian Ocean. The island is known for its salt lakes, lighthouses and quokkas (small local indigenous mammals). Guy was also the inaugural winner of the Rottnest Art Prize.
Guy spent some time as a ‘Prisoner of War’ (POW) in a WW2 German camp after his Blenheim Bomber was shot down over Europe in May 1940. It was during his bail out from the falling aircraft that he was caught in its slipstream; and he hit his head on the tailpiece and suffered severe injuries including a broken jaw and leg. He was captured by the Germans and taken to numerous camps. It was at one of these where he contracted tuberculosis, (TB) and was sent to Sussex in Britain on a prisoner exchange in 1944.
It was during this time in rehab in Sussex, Guy began an art therapy program which was organized by pioneer art therapist, Adrian Hill. Guy’s enthusiasm continued and after the War he continued to study painting at the Chelsea School of Art under Ceri Richards and Henry Moore in London. Guy’s main artistic influences included: Paul Cezanne, Nicholas de Stael, Henri Matisse and the ‘Fauves’.
Guy and his artist wife Helen, returned to Western Australia in 1948 eventually moving southward into the beautiful and peaceful Karri forest area.