Fred Williams 1927-1982
Fred Williams left school at the age of 14 to take up an apprenticeship with shopfitters and box makers TS Gill & Sons in their drafting office. A couple of years later he began studying at the National Gallery School in Melbourne to develop his drawing and artistic interests.
Williams won the National Gallery of Victoria Travelling Scholarship in 1947 which enabled him to travel to London a few years later and gain experience with the Chelsea School of Art. While there his work was included in two exhibitions, one at Whitechapel Art Gallery and one at the Tate Gallery, both focusing on modern Australian styles.
Williams returned to Melbourne in 1956 and shortly after began to move more towards painting landscapes than figures that he had been primarily working on in his London years. This resulted in prestigious prizes and recognition as an increasingly important landscape artist.
In the 1960s and 70s Williams further developed his style of painting scenes by ‘…painting en Plein air in gouache, completing the works in oil back in his studio. Williams painted the landscape from an aerial perspective, with no focal point.’3
By the early 1970s Williams was painting landscapes in strips which showed the same place at different times of the day. He ‘had developed his technique of painting separate horizontal strips of one scene, depicting varying times of day with its subsequent changes in tone and colour.’3
The Museum of Modern Art in New York recognized and applauded his artistic achievements by inviting him to provide a solo exhibition in 1977. This resulted in several New York art dealers clamoring to represent him, but he declined all offers to stay saying, ‘I will never paint anywhere but in Australia because I know Australia … I must be inside looking out, not outside looking in.’3