Figures in a garden

Born Sydenham, England 1893, arrived Australia 1935, died Sydney 1977


Harold Frederick Weaver Hawkins was introduced to painting for physical therapy after being badly injured on the battlefield in France during World War I. He had undergone twenty operations to save his arms from amputation after two days of crawling back to safety. Although he never regained full use of his hands, once recovered he enrolled in the Bristol Art School, then the Westminster School of Art, where he studied painting and etching (1919–22).

Before arriving in Australia in 1935 he and his wife lived in France, Italy, Spain and Tahiti. Seeing Vincent van Gogh’s l’Herbage aux Papillons (1890) in France, Hawkins noted the artist’s technique of using outlines to emphasise form and produce a sense of movement, and began to incorporate this technique in his own practice. Hawkins’ modernist style developed during the 1930s and his stylised figures and landscapes were characterised by hard edges, blocks of flat colour, simplified geometric forms and unnatural perspectives.

Between 1941 and 1972, Hawkins exhibited widely in Sydney and throughout Australia. In 1976 the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a survey show of his work entitled Project 11: Weaver Hawkins. His work was also included in The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788–1988, Art Gallery of South Australia and touring all state galleries (1988–89) and Federation: Australian Art and Society 1901–2001, National Gallery of Australia and touring (2000–02). His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and several regional galleries.