Harvey was a designer,sculptor, cartoonist, illustrator, print-maker, map maker and author. He also had an extensive career as an educator in Victoria. Especially noted for his wit, humor and economy of line in his Punch and Bulletin cartoons and vibrant range of linocut and silk screen Australian greeting cards produced during the 1950s and 1960s.
Professor Joan Kerr: Cartoonist and illustrator, produced cartoons and greeting cards in the late 1950s and 1960s. The Sydney Bulletin and London Punch were his chief cartoon outlets, but he also drew them for the Spectator and Lilliput , while in Australia his wordless, witty and satirical line drawings also appeared in K.G. Murray publications. Harvey’s Christmas cards were typically Australian versions on traditional English Yuletide themes: a kangaroo eating a plum pudding, Santa sunbaking or water-skiing, a man with a horse and buggy taking a Christmas tree to his rural Oz home (the NGA has an almost complete set). In the 1990s-2000s he designed, researched and wrote broadsheet Pictorial City Guides, the latest being Berlin (2001.
*Biography by Dr. Helen L. Hewson. * A student at Melbourne High School from 1944-1946, Tony Harvey indulged his passion for drawing and cartooning and dreamt of seeing the world. He read widely, borrowed from the Melbourne Public Library, frequented the National Gallery of Victoria and Ellis Bird’s secondhand bookshop discovering old engravings and copies of Punch, The Studio and Art in Australia. For a taste of the avant grade there was Gino Nibbi’s Leonardo Bookshop which played a pivotal role in freeing up literature and art in Australia throughout the 1930 and 1942 by stocking the latest art books and magazines. Critical of the conservative art scene, Nibbi published Stream, edited by Cyril Pearl with Dominic Leon’s Vorticist-inspired covers. In 1947 Harvey gained a free place to study commercial art at Melbourne Technical College where Alan Warren, Harold Freedman, Eric Smith and Ed Heffernan were teaching drawing, printmaking and lithography. Melbourne’s strong printmaking tradition can be traced to the NGV’s acquisition in 1891 of works by Durer, Rembrandt, Whistler and other artists. Familiar with the Claude Flight inspired relief printing among local printmakers during the 1940s, Harvey was also drawn to the work of British artists: John Piper, Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden and Paul and John Nash. In 1948 the Old Vic theatre Co. starring Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh staged Sheridan’s The School for Scandal in Melbourne. Cecil Beaton’s sets, incorporating gigantic line engravings of Georgian houses, were a spectacular introduction to theatre design for the young art student.
With savings from designing for Fortuna Fabrics, Sydney and drawing filmstrips for the Maxcraft Projection Manufacturing Co., Harvey sailed in 1951 to Europe. On reaching London he sent three cartoons to Punch signed 'John Harvey’ which were accepted. An invitation to submit drawings to a special exhibition of _Punch _illustrators in New York followed and his cartoons were reprinted in Pick of Punch Annual (1951- 2: 44,142,197). His work also appeared in Lilliput, Spectator and London Opinion.
The country’s emergence from the war years was celebrated with the Festival of Britain. In addition to the V&A and Tate and National Gallery collections the new Arts Council exhibited sixty painters and twelve sculptors in a show of British art over the preceding 25 years. At this time and of interest to Harvey was the modern graphic design infused with Scandinavian and European trends as seen in Graphis and _Gerbraugraphik, the art of the Polish poster school and the drawings of Tomi Ungerer and Andre Francois. From America there was the New Yorker with the cartoons of James Thurber and Saul Steinberg. Furthermore in Britain the union of text, illustration, typography and printing pioneered by William Morris flourished through the private presses, Nonesuch, Curnow, Golden Cockerel and others.
After sketching around Europe and Britain, Harvey returned to Australia during 1953 via the USA. In Melbourne the printmaking scene was vital and experimental centering on Harold Freedman, Tate Adams, Geoff Barwell and Ian Armstrong at Melbourne Tech. Harvey chose instead to design and print greeting cards for distribution on a larger scale than had been attempted by local artists like Helen Ogilvie and Harry Raynor.
Tony married Prudence Boileau, the elder daughter of Sir Gilbert Boileau and Chica Edgeworth Somers (later Lowe) in 1954. They moved to Richmond where he set up his commercial 'art card’ printery, first at 283 Bridge Road Richmond and later at 609 Bridge Road. He produced over 250 card designs using lino cuts and letterpress and ranging from religious art, native flora and fauna, Australia’s colonial history and Aboriginal designs as well as a unique and humorous exploitation of an antipodean Christmas celebrated by kangaroos, Santas and the traditional fare turned upside down,'down under’.
Max Harris wrote in the Observer(17 October 1959)of the the superiority of Australian cards over their English equivalents: “...Australian designers have a fresh and unexploited slant on the festive season… The greatest designer is Anthony Harvey, who does his own colour printing with unusually rich and vibrant inks. He is the first artist to have taken Australian motifs of the conventional kind and given them high wit and sophistication…”
In an interview with Helen Hewson in August 1987, Harvey recalled his working method:
“First I cut out the design using lino-cutting and cheap Japanese woodcarving tools, gem razor blades and an umbrella rib. A design would often require 2 or 3 or 4 blocks to create the colour range and I would ink up the first image in black and print it onto a further piece of lino in preparation for cutting the next block and to ensure exact registration. To give variety to the designs and range of cards fine lines were introduced by letterpress and photo-processed blocks were made from my drawings, and used with linocut blocks.
“I had an electric American Chandler and Price platen press and it was all rather dangerous because there was the possibility of crushing one’s hand as you fed the card between the block and the ink rollers. It was a major problem ensuring the rich coloured oil based inks had dried properly before a card design was returned for further colour printing,or if complete, for folding. I invented several drying machines over the years.
“The second printery, an old dairy with brick walls and cement floor, was very cold in the winter. The press and printing functions were along one wall with a central bench for folding and sorting cards for storage or despatch. Along two walls were floor to ceiling shelving accommodating drying racks, labelled boxes and the numnbered printing blocks easily identifiable for future reruns.
“Although it might seem from the diversity of the designs that other artists were employed, I was a solitary worker and engaged family members to assist with folding and packing. I handled my own distribution using sample cards in albums which I showed to prospective buyers.
Anthony Harvey Greeting Cards were sold exclusively throughout Australia by bookshops, art galleries and craft shops, including Primrose Pottery, Isa Johnstone, Georges Pty.Ltd. Hicks Atkinson, Hawthorn Galleries, Norman Robb, Margareta Webber, Hill of Content, Burnes and Oates and the Literature Bookshops in Melbourne; Marion Hall Best, the Roycroft, Carl Plate’s Notanda Gallery, David Jonesand the Blaxland Galleries in Sydney; Mary Martin Bookshop in Adelaide and Fuller’s in Tasmania. The cards featured in newspapers and magazines including, Australian Letters (Dec.1959), Walkabout (December 1960)and Vogue and Australian House and Garden.
The advent of the UNICEF and charity cards made inroads into Harvey’s exclusive art market and he closed his printery in 1959 and joined Speciality Press, North Clayton as a production planner and graphic artist. A year later, accredited for his 'industrial experience’ he was accepted at Collingwood Technical School as a temporary art teacher. He moved with his wife and two young daughters, Georgia and Tracy, from Richmond to St Kilda.
Continuing as a teacher, in 1962 the family had settled at Eltham in a cottage on the property of builder/designer Alistair Knox. Harvey designed and printed a range of silkscreened cards for loyal clients which incorporated three and four colours producing softer tones and subtle gradations of colour and depth.
Reflecting on a decade of extraordinary creativity Phillip Adams observed:
“Anthony Harvey’s cards…were way ahead of their time. Splendid pieces of design evoking for me, the great graphic work of Eastern Europe… in particular of Poland. (Adams-Hewson, 5 Dec.1977.)
In 1989 the National Gallery of Australia acquired An Album of Greeting Cards 1954-1964 for its Australian Print Collection. Blue Island Press, Sydney began reprinting Anthony Harvey cards in 2014.
Harvey taught art and craft at Watsonia Technical School and attended evening classes at RMIT and Toorak Teachers’ College part-time to gain further qualifications. In 1963 he was appointed Head of Advertising Art at Prahran Technical College and also produced the Commercial Art Course for Stott’s Technical Correspondence College, Melbourne. Returning to Watsonia Tech. the following year he remained in the Victorian Technical School system until 1974. When he resigned to concentrate on his own work, he was the Executive Officer of the Art and Craft Teachers’ Association and the Teachers’ Representative on the Four Person Standing Committee for Art in Technical Schools.
Drawing on his teaching experience he wrote and illustrated The Australian boys’ book of crafts, pets, sports and hobbies (1968). With Prudence Harvey, a companion book for girls (1970) soon followed as well as New Zealand editions in 1971.
Throughout the 1960s Harvey drew for Punch, Spectator and the Sydney Bulletin. From this period a cartoon based on Sebastian Brandt’s woodcut The Banquet given by Dido to Aeneas in which Harvey depicted the plates and wine cups sliding off the table with the accompanying caption: “It’s the way they draw these wretched tables!” featured in The Bulletin Book(1966). Years later E.H.Gombrich used the drawing in The Image and the Eye (1944) as an example demonstrating problems of perspective in medieval art. Professor Joan Kerr noted: “Anthony Harvey is an interesting cartoonist—oddly un-Australian despite the subject matter, I felt, probably because he is so sophisticated and understated. (Kerr-Hewson, 11 March 2002).
Harvey designed an egg container in the shape of a hen, which was hand-made from strawboard and painted. Its popularity led to a version in clay from which a brass mould was made. Thousand of birds were produced in papier mache from the mould and were brightly decorated by all the family, in particular his father, Stan Harvey. The birds sold throughout Australia, was an essential ingredient for all designer kitchens according to Belle House and Garden and _Vogue.
Tony and Prue were divorced in 1978. He moved to East Melbourne and joined Australian Industrial Publications where he spent the next thirteen years illustrating technical manuals for battleships,aircraft and power stations, much of it classified. Independently he published ARTCARDS (1985), a folio of postcards including his own linocuts along with works by Durer, Aldus Munutius, Yasukini. He researched, wrote and illustrated The Melbourne Book(Hutchinson, 1982) with over 400 black and white drawings which was launched by Don Dustan, Minister for Tourism in Victoria in the Melbourne Town Hall on 30 November 1982.
Harvey’s final project was a series of Pictorial City Guides. “I design the sort of guide I would like to have for a visit to a city. An overview with clues to its character and shape, pictures of the significant features—historical, cultural and architectural” The drawing were always views of the front elevation and based on photographs and sketches made on location. The guides were created on a Macintosh LC11 with a simple MacDraw 11 program with each city contained on the one frame. This was compressed on a disc, turned into a negative by laser technology and used to produce a printing plate for photo-offset production. Tones were made with 1800 dots to the inch. Twenty-four world city guides were designed and sold in Australia, UK and the USA until production ceased in 2007. Over many years as a designer Harvey always adapted to innovative changes in printing technology.
Initially Anthony Harvey Pictorial Maps was based in Carlton where Tony lived with Ann Morton until her death in 1993. Subsequently he moved his studio to Port Melbourne where he joined Alison Rowlands who later became his wife. He died at Port Melbourne on 27 July 2014 and is survived by his wife and daughters, Georgia Phillips who is currently the custodian of his sketchbooks and albums and Tracy Harvey, an actress, writer, musician and artist.