Jean left school in 1945 with an ambition to become a dancer. A little later Jean hitch-hiked to Sydney determined to attend the renown Desiderus Oban art school. However, after only some six months family recalled her to Melbourne and Jean commenced evening art classes learning tonal painting at Justus Jorgensen’s school.
Jean then attended the National Gallery of Victoria School of Art for four years. In her first year Jean was awarded first prize for the Anatomical Figure and second prize for the Antique Figure.
It was at the NGV classes of Charles Bush that Jean enjoyed drawing with a younger David Gillison. At Mirka’s coffee lounge where Jean worked as a waitress (a student job she had secured with the help of John Howley) Jean introduced David to Bruce Pollard. The friends, with others enjoyed complements of painting and drawing and literature at weekends in the Dandenongs. On one of these excursions when Jean exclaimed after banging her head in the crowded car, Charles Bush told her not to worry because you paint with your heart, not your head.
Amidst this spirit Jean took Bruce Pollard to some night painting classes at Swinburne. Fourteen years later (1967) Bruce Pollard opened Pinacotheca Gallery at 1 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda with an exhibition of paintings by David Gillison who had then returned from Japan.
Jean recalls the era of her art schooling as one
when the drive of herself, aspiring artist friends and those
further along the path (including Donald Laycock, Lawrence Daws,
Clifton Pugh, John Howley and Len Crawford) was to live; to
paint; time essential; money a necessity; to be free to paint.
Jean exhibited in the 1958 Contemporary Art Society Gallery of Contemporary Art in Tavistock Place in the company of Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Clifton Pugh.
In 1959, Jean left Melbourne to work at the South Molle island resort for some 18 months and then to travel in far north Queensland. Here she married and lived in Cooktown managing a few bush painting excursions. Some paintings from this period were exhibited (1964) at “the new” Elly Lukas Gallery, 52 Russell Street, Melbourne.
In 1966 Jean returned permanently to Melbourne. In 1967 Bruce Pollard established Pinacotheca Gallery at 1 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda and Jean was engaged to attend it for one day a week.
The demands of sole parenting then precluded Jean from painting until 1994 when Jean resumed her interrupted journey in painting.
Paintings from 2003 and 2004 are now in Watson Place Gallery together with “Under the Sea”, 1957 which has been in the collection of Bruce Pollard since the early 1970’s.
Trevor Fuller 2004