Early 20th century Victorian and Western Australian painter, muralist and cartoonist. An official war artist during World War 1, Benson was a longstanding member of the Melbourne Savage Club before relocating to Perth where he worked as an art critic and undertook a commission to decorate the beams of Winthrop Hall at the University of WA with Indigenous motifs.
painter, muralist and cartoonist, was born in Melbourne and studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Schools from 1903. He contributed cartoons to the Sydney Bulletin and worked on Melbourne Punch . He may also be the ' G.B. ' in War Cry in 1900. During WWI he did drawings at Gallipoli and in France and as a result was made an official war artist in 1918. After the War he studied in London but returned to Melbourne in 1919 to complete work for the Australian War Memorial (AWM). He spent the next decade painting watercolour landscapes and working as a book illustrator.
A member of the Melbourne Savage Club from 1913 to 1936, Benson drew a program cover for a Smoke Concert held on 31 July 1920 when the Savages entertained the presidents of the other Melbourne clubs (ill. Johnson, 111). In it a black savage with a spear welcomes archetypal members of other clubs: the Melbourne (a fat capitalist), the Australian (a thin gentleman), the Naval and Military (both in full regimentals), the University (a stooped elderly man in cap and gown), the Athenaeum (a classical figure crowned with a laurel wreath), the Commercial Travellers (a fat man with a suitcase), the Yorick (a ghost), the Bohemian (a Push type) and the Old Scotch Collegians (a Scotsman peering at the door of a closed bar). The caption reads: 'They can never be like us, but they can be as like us as they are able to be’. With Will Dyson and Harold Herbert , he signed a caricature, Our genial “Cook” [Percy Peppin Cook, Vice-President of the Melbourne Savage Club 1904-30, president 1930-33] soupervises our 163rd bill of fare c.1930, in which a semi-naked white male cook stands over a cauldron that has an arm and a leg sticking out of it sipping or smelling grog (# ill. Dow, 35).
In 1931 Benson moved to Perth to execute a commission to decorate the beams of Winthrop Hall at the University of WA with formal designs based on Aboriginal motifs. He remained there painting, carrying out further commissions and working as art critic and cartoonist on the West Australian newspaper (example National Library of Australia). During WWII he was a camouflage artist. He died at Perth in 1960.
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