Yam creek

Born Adelaide, Australia 1927


As a teenager, Lawrence Daws would spend weekends painting at Hahndorf, outside Adelaide. There he met senior artist Hans Heysen who became a mentor and encouraged him to pursue his art practice. After studying engineering and architecture, Daws worked on a mine site in New Guinea (1948–49), while continuing to paint and maintaining correspondence with Heysen. On his return he enrolled at the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1949–53).

In 1957 Daws received a scholarship to study in Rome, and subsequently has been inspired by European art and literature, particularly Hermann Hesse, Sigmund Freud and Karl Jung. Influenced by Jung’s writings on mandalas, Daws produced a series of work which explored their form and spiritual meaning, incorporating aspects of their symbolism into his representations of the physical landscapes of Australia.

Yam Creek was painted at this time and evokes the sweeping red vistas of the Flinders Ranges and Northern Territory that Daws visited, but is also imbued with a sense of dark foreboding. It was exhibited at the Matthiesen Gallery, London in the early 1960s. In 1961–62 his work was included in exhibitions of Australian art in London at the Whitechapel and Tate galleries. He represented Australia in Paris at the Biennale de Jeunes (1962), and in 1963 was awarded a silver medal at the Bienal de São Paulo in Brazil.

Daws work is represented extensively within Australia and is held in international collections including the Tate Gallery, London, Scottish National Gallery, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.