Jeffrey Smart

Learning Resource

A painting of a bending train track with a hill next to it, on which is built a small house. The house's balcony is supported by stilts over the track. In the back ground spoke rises into a gloomy sky.

Jeffrey Smart
Keswick siding


Keswick siding
1945 Tarntanya/Adelaide
oil on canvas
62 x 72.1 cm
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
Gift of Charles B Moses 1982
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart
Photo: AGNSW

Keswick siding is an early painting by Smart. He has used rough brushstrokes to create an impression of the old building and billowing smoke. He was determined to create this painting and had to break some laws to do so, as he describes here:

‘The siding was on railway property, so I had to get off at Keswick station and climb down from the platform with my easel and gear and camera and walk along the tracks with trains rushing past. Once work is started there is always the possibility of an officious railway worker ordering you off the site.’

If you were explaining this painting to someone who could not see it, how would you describe the subject and the focus of the painting, the brushwork and the colours?

Keswick siding was made in 1945. Think about the significance of that year. Is there anything about the colours that could relate to this period?

Keswick siding was a modern painting in 1945. What might a modern image today include that captures the advances, drawbacks and impact of contemporary society?

The expressionistic painting style of Smart’s work was in tune with pre- and post-World War Two paintings. What do you think the key style and medium of image-making today might be? Perhaps a digital image, a video or a photograph, or maybe a manga comic?

Make a digital image, video or manga comic page to express one of the experiences you’ve had in the last few years that is now a ubiquitous part of the contemporary world. For example, smoke from bushfires, lockdown or the experience of connecting with friends or family online. How do you capture a sense of place, express emotion or convey humour?

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