A well-travelled mural painter and writer, Ethel Anderson was considered one the most important supporters of modern art and its painters in the early part of the 20th century, thanks largely to the exhibitions she organised and the writing she did about it for numerous publications including Art in Australia and the Sydney Morning Herald.
painter, designer and author, was born Ethel Mason, in Sydney. She was educated privately and at Church of England Grammar School for Girls where she was taught by Miss E.A. Badham and excelled in Greek and Latin. She married A.T. Anderson (1886-1949), later Brigadier General and secretary to Sir Dudley de Chair and four other governors; they lived in India and England. Returning to Sydney in 1924, the Andersons settled at Ball Green, Turramurra, where Ethel lived until her death.
Ethel Anderson had no formal training in art but while in England in 1914-24 joined the Cambridge Group and became acquainted with artists such as Sir William Rothenstein. She painted murals for English churches, including the church at White Ladies, Aston, and founded the Young Worcestershire Arts and Crafts Club. In Sydney she became the most important supporter of modern art and the modernist painters, Grace Cossington Smith , Dorrit Black , Roland Wakelin and Roy de Maistre , by writing about their work, holding exhibitions in her home, organising exhibitions in other venues and opening exhibitions. She published articles on modern art and artists in Art in Australia , Home , Sydney Morning Herald , Australian Quarterly and Undergrowth .
In 1927 Ethel Anderson started the Turramurra Wall Painters Group and designed murals painted by the group in the Turramurra Grammar School, the Children’s Chapel in St James’s Church, Sydney, and for four other churches in Perth (WA), Armidale (NSW), New Guinea and Melanesia (designs for some of these works are included in the Anderson Papers, Mitchell Library). She exhibited paintings with the Contemporary Group, and in the Lodestar Gallery, Sydney, run by her cousin Stella Scroggie.
After 1930 Ethel Anderson concentrated on writing fiction and poetry. She published seven books, including At Parramatta , Squatter’s Luck and an oratorio set to music by John Antill. She also published widely in magazines such as Home , Bulletin , Manuscripts and Southerly in Australia, Punch , Spectator and Cornhill in England, and Atlantic Monthly in America.