Dahl Collings was a painter, commercial artist, graphic and exhibition designer, illustrator, costume and textile designer, photographer and documentary film-maker. Often working in partnership with her husband Geoffrey Collings, she worked in London in the late 1930s with László Moholy-Nagy
painter, commercial artist, graphic and exhibition designer, illustrator, costume and textile designer, photographer and documentary film-maker, was born Dulcie Wilmott in Adelaide. In about 1926-32 she studied at East Sydney Technical College under Rayner Hoff and attended painting classes at the J.S. Watkins Art School. Her career began at Anthony Horderns in 1928, providing illustrations for the house magazine and the firm’s catalogues; she also did freelance work for other Sydney department stores, Farmers and David Jones.
In 1933 Dulcie Wilmott married Geoffrey Collings ; they had two daughters, Donna (b.1937) and the artist Silver Collings (b.1940). She and her husband worked collaboratively for most of their lives, co signing the majority of their work 'Dahl and Geoffrey Collings’, the name Dahl having been coined by Geoffrey as a term of endearment. One of their first works signed jointly was a 1934 cover design for Home .
They travelled to London in 1935, and Dahl worked as a freelance designer until László Moholy Nagy offered her a job in his studio. There she gained first-hand experience of European modernism and of Moholy Nagy’s and Gyorgy Kepes’s approach to design – which she and Geoffrey embraced wholeheartedly. With Alistair Morrison, she and Geoffrey organised the 'Three Australians’ exhibition at the Lund Humphreys Gallery in 1938 to show their British work.
In 1939 they returned to Sydney and attempted to introduce modern design to local industry. They mounted their 'Exhibition of Modern Industrial Art and Documentary Photography’ at David Jones Art Gallery and, with Richard Haughton James, established a commercial and industrial design studio, The Design Centre. Dahl was one of the very first Australian women to begin the slow process of introducing modern art and design principles to Australian industry.
During the 1940s she continued to work freelance, designing covers for Sydney Ure Smith’s new journal, Australia , and producing designs for Elizabeth Arden, David Jones, Qantas, the Orient Line and Woman magazine. She exhibited with the Contemporary Art Society and the Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists’ Association, winning (with Geoffrey) four ACIAA awards in 1940. She also painted murals for the Accountants Club, Kings Cross restaurants and a kindergarten in the Blue Mountains.
In the early 1940s Dahl and Geoffrey Collings collaborated with Alistair Morrison, Douglas Annand and Elaine Haxton to produce the 'Temple of Beauty’, Woman 's display stand at the Royal Easter Show. Dahl was costume designer for the films Eureka Stockade (1949) and The Overlanders (1946). Her paintings of Charters Towers were published in the final issue of London’s Lilliput magazine in 1950. She also designed posters for the Orient line and fabrics for SS Oronsay .
In 1950 the family moved to New York. Dahl became a design consultant to the Australian Trade Commission, in charge of the Australian Display Centre in the Rockefeller Center. Back at Sydney in 1953, she and Geoffrey established their own film company, Collings Productions. Many of the films she produced and directed won international awards. Dreaming , a film produced for Qantas about Aboriginal art, won one of the five special diplomas (the top award) at the 1964 Venice Biennale Festival of Art Films; her Opera House film, Job No.1112 , was awarded a silver medal at the 1975 Festival of Architectural Films in Madrid.
From 1971 Dahl devoted herself full time to painting. She had solo shows at the Bonython (1976) and Holdsworth (1977) galleries in Sydney and at the City of Hamilton Art Gallery (Vic.) in 1982.