Inge King 1915 – 2016
After completing school in 1932, King thought of becoming a sculptor and found a teacher who instructed her in wood carving basics and clay modelling until she gained a place at the Berlin Academy of Fine Arts. But her time there was cut short by the onset of war in Europe and by the targeting of Jewish people. She managed to escape Germany with the help of German friends who were able to arrange a visa to England.
Eventually King settled in Glasgow and entered the Glasgow School of Art in 1941, studying under the guidance of an earlier European immigrant, Benno Schotz, who also had Jewish heritage.
A couple of years after the war ended, King moved to the Abbey Arts Centre near London where she met her future husband, Grahame King, an Australian. She exhibited twice in London, then spent six months in Paris, before visiting New York in 1949. This was an inspirational place for her because the atmosphere was bustling and progressive and she felt ‘…after war-torn Europe, it was clean, it was very safe…’1. Despite her attraction though, she could not stay since her husband could not get a residency permit, so they decided to move to Melbourne in 1951.
Although King was to discover that Melbourne would be nothing like New York, she eventually came to terms with her new life, not wanting to return to Germany. She became a leader in the development of sculptural form in Australia and was a founding member of a key group of sculptors called Centre 5. ‘Many of King’s large-scale works are found in public spaces and on university campuses. She had more than 26 solo exhibitions and participated in more than 60 group exhibitions in Australia and New Zealand and also in London and New York.’1
Inge King died aged 100 in 2016. Stuart Purves, Director of Australian Galleries knew her well and commented on her death that ‘her sculptures and contribution to the arts in this country and beyond are unquestionably significant…a liberated woman, a thinker of clarity and a massive achiever.’3