By Rama Gaind
PS News Books
By Betty Churcher (Melbourne University Publishing, $44.99, softcover, 253 pages)
The incomparable Betty Churcher has a winning way with her passion for the arts: an infectiousness that rubs off, regardless of whether you’re a follower.
In this strikingly illustrated book, the former director of the National Gallery of Australia takes you on a personal tour of her most beloved works including masterpieces by Rembrandt, Goya, Manet, Valdzquez, Courbet, Vermeer and Cezanne.
Churcher writes of her own motivations and drawings about “...all those other great minds that have inspired and supported me for all of my life”.
Both iconic and intimate, Notebooks is a personal guide through some of the great art museums of Europe and the US and features her lovingly drawn sketches – now committed to memory – along with her journey as she prepares for a future that includes failing eyesight.
It’s all about spectacular wonders, discovering the magic of art and celebrating the artist’s passions and perceptions with such works as The Death of Actaeon by Titian the greatest Venetian artist of the sixteenth century, Italian Renaissance master Giovanni Bellini’s portrait of The Doge Leonardo Loredan, Gustave Courbet’s Girls on the Banks of the Seine and Paul Gaugin’s Nevermore.
A gifted artist in her own right, it was through contemplation and drawing that Churcher found the key to connect with works of genius. Through her reproduced cherished trove of sketches, myriad of illustrations and conversational-style text, Churcher delivers a part-historical, part-travelogue that’s quite appealing.
While she is credited with bringing some of the world’s best art to Australia, Betty Churcher has to be admired and is something of a national treasure herself.Notebooks is dedicated to her seven grandchildren with a beautiful quote: “In his letter to the Corinthians St Paul wrote: ‘If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing... love never fails’.”
To find out more about Rama Gaind click here.