Erica McGilchrist (Australia, 1926- )

Thermal Staircase   1970
synthetic polymer paint on canvas

UTS Art Collection, transfer from KCAE, 1990

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Erica McGilchrist, OAM was born in Mount Gambier, South Australia in 1926 and worked as an educator, dancer, illustrator and designer as well as holding more than forty solo exhibitions of her paintings. McGilchrist’s early works were angular, expressive figures developing out of her experiences as an art therapist at the Kew Mental Hospital in Melbourne. In contrast, Thermal Staircase (1970) has a clean, graphic composition closer in style to her illustrations and designs for postage stamps during the 1960s. The graded colours and striking use of perspective create optical effects give this small canvas a jewel-like quality, evocative of both architectural drawing and traditional quilting blocks.

Inspired by the international women’s art movement of the mid-1970s McGilchrist was one of the founding members and coordinator of the Women’s Art Register in Melbourne between 1978 and 1986. In 1992, she received the Medal of the Order of Australia in recognition for her contribution to contemporary art.




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