Tasmanian born artist mainly known as a printmaker, Bea Maddock also worked in painting, drawing and photography.
Beatrice Louise Maddock was born in Hobart, Tasmania, in 1934. Beatrice and her twin sister, Frances, were the youngest of the four children of two amateur artists, Henry Mervyn Maddock, an Anglican clergyman, and Thelma Annie. The family lived in various country parishes of Tasmania.
In 1956, Maddock graduated with a Fine Art degree from the Hobart Technical College where she had studied part-time under Jack Carington Smith, Dorothy Stoner, Jack Koskie and Stephen Walker. During her studies, she worked at the Visual Aids Centre at the Tasmanian Education Department. Maddock taught in high schools while studying art education at the University of Tasmania. Artist and former teacher Jack Carington Smith encouraged her to apply to the Slade School of Art in London. She was accepted, and left in 1959 to pursue postgraduate painting and printmaking with William Coldstream, Anthony Gross (etching) and Ceri Richards (lithography).
During her European journey, she traveled in Scotland, England, France, Holland, Italy, and Germany. She studied at the Academi de Bell Arti in Perugia, Italy, on a one-month scholarship. She went to churches and sketched in notebooks, observing Masaccio’s paintings and other religious sculptures. Because of the language barrier and the poor teaching at the provincial school, Maddock and her fellow student Murray Walker quit the classes to spend most of their time in the landscape. Maddock found great interest and inspiration in the art and landscape of Umbria and Tuscany. She painted works like Italian landscape (1961) outdoors on small canvases she carried. At the Slade School, she had been criticized for drawing too well and using too many colours, a palette she had been taught in Tasmania. After mainly working in tones of green, her Italian experience diversified her palette again. In Paris, she was impressed by the works of Georges Rouault, the French Fauvist and Expressionist painter and printmaker. Her print works at the Slade, like her 1960 Self-portrait , were influenced by Rouault’s emphatic gestures and strong black outlines. She admired German Expressionism in Munich and Essen, and would later study German Expressionist prints at the National Gallery of Victoria Print Room when living in Melbourne in 1964. Maddock travelled back to Australia by boat in 1961, stopping in Bombay, India. There, she was deeply confronted by the poverty, and she considered her experience in India as a milestone.
Upon her return to Australia, Maddock spent two years in Launceston, studying ceramics, teaching, painting, and printing. In 1964, she had her first solo exhibition in Launceston: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Bea Maddock. She then moved to South Melbourne, where she worked in a furniture factory to make ends meet. The city influenced her Figure series, which she would work on until 1968. Maddock moved back to Launceston in 1965 to teach ceramics, printmaking, drawing and basic design. Even after she moved, her works were still based on her Melbourne experience.
Bea Maddock won many prizes including the Tasmanian Drawing Prize in 1968, with Figure in a place , and the F.E. Richardson Print Prize in 1969, with Midnight (part of the Day series).
By the late 1960s, the artist established herself as a printmaker and in 1970, the National Gallery of Victoria Art School in Melbourne invited Maddock to teach printmaking. There, she was also able to dedicate time to her own work with the advanced printmaking technology, and started making photo-screenprints and photo-etchings. Her promotion of these two practices through teaching was extremely important in Australian art schools. In 1973, Maddock was appointed Senior Lecturer in Printmaking at the Victorian College of the Arts (formerly National Gallery of Victoria Art School).
During the 1970s Maddock worked mainly in series which paralleled the sequential nature of newspapers, as she was commenting in her work on the omnipresence of mass media. She used newspaper clippings and other found materials in her work, like the photograph of a criminal in a local newspaper she used in the photo-etching Philosophy I (1972).
In 1974, she won the 4th prize at the International Print Biennale in Poland for the photo-etching Square (1972) and received her first commission, from the Print Council of Australia, to produce a member print. A Creative Arts Fellowship at the Australian National University of Canberra allowed her to spend all of 1976 on her own work. She then received a Commission (1977) from the Visual Arts Board for the VIIth International Exhibition in New Delhi, for which she produced ten prints – the Journey series, Four by Two , and Two by Two . The same year, the Commonwealth Games Print Portfolio in Edmonton, Canada, commissioned her to produce a print. She traveled to Canada, then the United States, where she saw the work of Jasper Johns at the Whitney Museum of American Art, a Paul Cezanne exhibition at the MOMA and other public collections in New York. Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol were important influences on Maddock’s work, with their extensive use of serial imagery, grid format, and photography. Numeral 1 (1984) is an example of one of Maddock’s responses to Jasper Johns’ serial work.
From 1979-80, she was Acting Dean at the Victorian College of the Arts and worked on a commission of twelve encaustic panels for the High Court of Australia, Canberra. She resigned from her Senior Lectureship at the Victorian College of the Arts in 1981, and became part-time lecturer at the Bendigo College of Advanced Education in 1982. Living in Macedon, Maddock created the Access Studio, a space for ex-students to use. Sadly, the 1983 Ash Wednesday bush fires destroyed Maddock’s Macedon studio and house. (She would later recreate the Access Studio at the Red Lion paper mill in Dunolly.)
Maddock toured New Zealand and gave lectures, along with her exhibition Bea Maddock Prints 1960-1982. She returned to teaching in Launceston, Tasmania, for one year until 1984, when she resigned from teaching altogether in order to devote herself entirely to her own work. Maddock had always had a strong desire to educate, but she knew that time consuming teaching was incompatible with her career. The following year, she was appointed member of the Council of the Australian National Gallery and was also Chairperson of Ritchies Mill Arts Centre in Launceston.
In 1987, the Artists in Antarctica Program invited Maddock on a trip to Antarctica. It inspired her Forty Pages from Antarctica , a suite of etchings. That year, she also produced, under the commission of the Australian National Gallery, the encaustic panels We live in the meanings we are able to discern for the ANZ Bicentennial Art Commission.
Text is a feature of Maddock’s visual language. The Parliament House Construction Authority commissioned Maddock to design two posters using quotes chosen by historian Manning Clark. Completed in 1989 for the Manton exhibition, Queensland Art Gallery, the four panel encaustic painting Tromemanner – forgive us our trespass is a good example of the importance of words in Maddock’s art.
Maddock’s work is held in the collections of the Australian National Gallery in Canberra, all State galleries and other collections in Australia, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the National Gallery in Washington.