Darlington: William Boissevain shares new exhibit on colourful life

Artist William Boissevain is exhibiting his work during the Darlington Arts Festival. Picture: David Baylis        d461000
Darlington: William Boissevain shares new exhibit on colourful life
Artist William Boissevain is exhibiting his work during the Darlington Arts Festival. Picture: David Baylis        d461000

AS esteemed artist William Boissevain approaches his 90th birthday, he is preparing to exhibit a new body of work in a boutique gallery in Darlington.

The public is invited to the exhibition launch on November 5 at Nest Design Studio, a short walk from the Darlington Arts Festival on the village oval over the same weekend.

Among the paintings on display will be his award-|winning portrait of Robert Juniper, a fellow pioneer in WA art with whom he enjoyed a friendly rivalry.

He drew inspiration from his environment and like Juniper chose to live in the Hills, working from a home studio in Glen Forrest for many years.

MORE: Darlington residents fund own bushfire threat siren

A prolific painter, his vast collection of work embraces the genres of portraiture, landscapes, nudes and still life.

Born in New York in 1927 as the son of a Dutch diplomat, he recalled a nomadic childhood influenced by his surroundings and the desire to counter ugliness with images of beauty. He honed his skills in construction, composition and colour from a Russian art teacher when he lived in Shanghai until the Japanese invaded China.

The Allied families were interned for nine months with minimal food and the young artist passed his time drawing pictures of the Japanese liaison officers.

An exchange of diplomatic prisoners resulted in the families being repatriated and when his parents separated, Boissevain joined his mother and her new husband in 1947 to live in Greenmount.

While building a reputation as an artist, he found a niche in portraiture and worked as a teacher, preferring to make his own way in the world rather than seek funding.

His hard work paid off and he became one of WA’s most successful painters, exhibiting extensively in Sydney at the Holdsworth Gallery.

In 1978 he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to art.

Janet Holmes a Court remarked on his “genuine feeling for colour and pigment, and a poetic vision… disarming in its innocence” in a book dedicated to the artist in 1998 and reprinted in 2001.