John Caldwell - Biography




Photo: David Cox, June 2008

biographical history

Born in Sydney in 1942 and following schooling there, Caldwell spent ten years in the pastoral
industry, primarily in the Channel Country of south western Queensland. He travelled
overseas, living in London, Ireland and Europe for three years, returning to Sydney in 1972
then studied for four years at the University of New South Wales, completing an honours degree
in English Literature. Since 1977 he has worked full time as an artist, with more than forty solo
exhibitions as well as many joint and group exhibitions throughout Australia.

The primary focus of his work is the natural landscape where there is little or no evidence
of human presence. Through regular working trips in Australia and overseas he gathers the
reference material that results in his finished studio work. Major solo exhibitions have
resulted from time spent in Antarctica, the Ipswich coalfields, the granite country of
northern New South Wales and the Southern Ocean coastline of Western Australia.
Other major sources of his work include the Flinders Ranges of South Australia, the
Grampians and Great Ocean Road in Victoria, the Riverina, Sydney Harbour and the
Kosciuszko region.

His overseas working trips include the UK and Europe in 1979; Bali, New Caledonia,
Vanuatu and Tahiti in the 1980s; and France and Cornwall in 1994.
His paintings, drawings and printmaking also encompass portraiture, figurative and
still life subjects and he conducts a programme of painting and drawing workshops from his base
in Blackheath.

Among his many other shows since 1981 Caldwell has exhibited jointly with Desiderius Orban,
Judy Cassab, Eva Kubbos, Shay Docking, Peter Rushforth, Lloyd Rees, Jan Senbergs and others.
A regular contributor to major art competitions, Caldwell has won many awards
and been shortlisted in the Archibald Prize on three occasions.

Reviews and comments

“Probably Australia’s finest watercolour artist.”
— John Coburn, 17 November 1996

“Perhaps the best known is John Caldwell, who lives at Blackheath
and continues a long exploration of rugged landscape in some of the
most accomplished work one is ever likely to see.”
— Elizabeth Fortescue, Arts Editor, Sunday Telegraph, 25 April 2004

“I do not think even his admirers necessarily know what an exceptional
and generally unacknowledged artist we have here.”
— Giles Auty, Weekend Australian, 26-27 May 2001

“An artist, who, in the craft and technique of his medium, is the equal
of any artist in Australia working from the landscape.”
— John Millington, Courier Mail, 25 June 1998

Recent solo exhibitions

2000 High Lands and Coastlines. Port Jackson Press Gallery, Melbourne
2000 Bathurst to Bruny. The Salamanca Collection, Hobart
2001 The Beach to the Bush. Gallery 460, Gosford
2001 John Caldwell and Friends. Trinity Delmar Gallery, Sydney
2002 Paintings. Von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle
2003 By the Southern Ocean. The Taylor Galleries, Sydney
2004 Paintings. Red Hill Gallery, Brisbane. June 2004
2004 Paintings. Beaver Galleries, Canberra. August 2004
2004 Paintings. Hardware Gallery, Sydney. October 2004
2005 Murray Journeys, Taylor Galleries, Sydney


. Art Gallery of New South Wales
. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
. S H Ervin Gallery (Douglas Stewart Memorial Purchase)
. Bathurst Regional Art Gallery
. Brisbane City Hall Art Gallery and Museum
. Newcastle Region Art Gallery
. Gosford Regional Art Gallery
. Moree Plains Regional Art Gallery
. Ipswich Regional Art Gallery
. Mosman Art Gallery
. New England Regional Art Gallery
. University of New South Wales
. University of Technology, Sydney
. Macquarie University
. Wollongong University
. Charles Sturt University
. James Cook University, Townsville
. University of Western Australia
. Warringah Municipal Council
. Artbank
. The Antarctic Division, Hobart, Davis and Mawson
. Kedumba Collection
. Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth

Selected Awards

Wynne Competition, Trustees’ Watercolour Prize: 1984, 1987
Tattersalls National Landscape Award: 1997, 1999
Mosman Art Prize: 1986
Wyong Festival of Arts Open Award: 1996, 2000
Mahlab Law Week Art Prize: 1987
Sunday Mail Outstanding Landscape Award: 2000
Sydney Easter Show: seven first-place awards 1982–1986

Regional Gallery Solo and Joint Exhibitions

Antarctic Journey. Following his visit by invitation to Antarctica in 1987 with Bea Maddock and
Jan Senbergs.
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (1988)
Newcastle Regional Gallery (1988), Brisbane City Hall
Gallery (1989)
Manning Regional Art Gallery (1991)
The Colours of Black. Based on the coalmining district around Ispwich, Queensland. Travelling
exhibition to Biloela, Blackwater, Moranbah, Capella, Mackay and Gladstone (1992);
Broken Hill and Bathurst regional galleries (1994).
Granite Country. Outcropping granite areas from Bathurst NSW to Stanthorpe Qld. Toured regional
galleries in Bathurst (1997) and Wagga Wagga, Tweed River, Gold Coast, Moree, Manning, Tamworth
and Grafton regional galleries (1999); also University of Technology, Sydney.
The Harbour and the Hawkesbury. The natural landscape of these two adjacent waterways of
Sydney. Mosman Art Gallery (2002).

Recent Solo Exhibitions:

1988 Gallery 460, Gosford NSW
1989 Philip Bacon Gallery, Qld
1990 BMG Fine Art, Adelaide
1991 Gallery 460, Gosford NSW
1992 The Colours of Black”, Ipswich City Council Regional Gallery
1993 Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1994 Paris and Beyond”, Espace Alliance; Sydney
1995 France Recalled”, Espace Alliance; Sydney
1996 North Shore Fine Art, Sydney; Lilianfels, Katoomba.
1997 Bathurst Regional Art Gallery;
1999 Gallery 460, Gosford NSW
2000 Port Jackson Press, Melbourne; Salamanca Collection

Recent Selected Joint Exhibitions:

1988 Antarctic Journey, Three Artists in Antarctica, John Caldwell, Bea
Maddock, Jan Senbergs
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart and touring to Newcastle
Regional Art Gallery
1989 Antarctic Journey, Brisbane City Hall Art Museum, Manning Regional
1993 Four Artists Exhibition Delmar Gallery with Judy Cassab, Eva
Kubbos and Gytis Danta
1996 Travels Afar, Gallery 460, Gosford NSW

Recent Selected Group Exhibitions:

1988 Survey of Contemporary Artists, Gallery 460, Gosford NSW
1989 Works on Paper, Gallery 460, Gosford NSW
Twentieth Century Australian Watercolours, AGNSW, Sydney
Lloyd Rees and Friends Von Bertouch Gallery, Newcastle
1990 Gallery 460s 10th Birthday Exhibition
1991 Kedumba Drawing Award
1992 Impressions of Mining Brisbane City Hall Art Gallery
1995 Watercolours Art Gallery New South Wales
1996 Travels Affar Gallery 460, Gosford
1996 "Dobell Drawing Prize" AGNSW, Sydney


1982, 1983 Royal Easter Show, Sydney - Seascape Prize
1984, 1986 Royal Easter Show, Sydney - Miniature Prize
1984, 1987 Art Gallery of NSW - Trustees Watercolour Prize
1986 Watercolour Prize & Portrait Prize; Mosman Art Prize; Warringah
Art Prize
1987 Royal Easter Show, Sydney - Watercolour Prize; Mahlab Law Week Art
1990 Aberdare Purchase Award
1990 Walkom Manning Art Prize
1996, 2000 Wyong Festival of the Arts Open Award
1997 Tattersalls National Landscape Art Award, Brisbane
1999 Tattersalls National Landscape Art Award, Brisbane


Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney; Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart; SH
Ervin Gallery; Sydney; Douglas Stewart Memorial Purchase; Artbank; The
Robert Holmes a Court Collection, Perth; University of NSW; University of
Western Australia; The Antarctic Division; Trinity Grammar School;
Gosford City, Warringah and Mosman Council Collections; corporate and
private collections in Australia and overseas.


Brackenreg, John (ed). The Australian Landscape in Oils and Watercolour
Australian Artist Editions, Sydney, 1983.
Campbell, Jean. Australian Watercolour Painting Rigby, 1983.
Germaine, Max. Artists & Galleries of Australia and New Zealand Craftsman
House, 1990.
Germaine, Max. Artists & Galleries of Australia and New Zealand Landsdowne
Editions, 1979.
Kaleski, Sonia. Challenging Watercolours from John Caldwell, Canberra
Times March 18, 1981.
McIntyre, Arthur. In Suburbia, The Australian September, 1977.
Short, Susannah. Watercolourist makes splash in the art world”, The
Northern Herald May 2, 1985.
Ward, Peter. A journey round Antarctica, The Weekend Australian February
28 - March 1, 1987.
Ward, Peter. The Riviera down among the Icebergs, The Weekend Australian
March 7-8, 1987.