Water buffaloes

Born Melbourne, Australia 1909, died Adelaide 1999


Elaine Haxton trained in sculpture at East Sydney Technical College (1923–34), supporting her part time studies by working as an assistant to artist Rayner Hoff for a number of years, and as a commercial illustrator from 1929. Haxton travelled to London in 1931, where she continued her studies of painting, drawing and printmaking at the Grosvenor School (1933–36) and also travelled in Europe.

At the outbreak of World War II, she returned to Sydney armed with a background in theatre design, which subsequently took her to work in New Guinea (1944–45) and New York where she studied at the New York School of Theatre Design (1945). Russell Drysdale, William Dobell and Donald Friend numbered amongst her close associates from the early 1940s, and her circle of peers included Adrian Feint, Sali Herman, Margaret Preston, and Jean Bellette.

Haxton became known as one of the early figures of the Sydney Charm School, but unfortunately did not receive the attention accorded to her male contemporaries. She travelled throughout her life, studying printmaking in Japan and theatre designs in Paris. A prolific designer, she worked on murals, textiles, stage sets and costumes, as well as painting and printmaking. In 1943 she won the Sulman Prize for her mural at the Coq d’Or restaurant in Sydney’s Kings Cross.

Haxton’s work can be found in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, all state and most regional galleries and universities, and international museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Hermitage, Leningrad.