Jean Langley
Painter and Writer


...
Portrait of Jean Langley by Marie Stuart Jamieson Oil 390 x 310 mm 1950

Jean Langley was an Australian artist and writer. Apart from creating a large body of art landscape and coastal paintings, Jean wrote three books, two of which feature her outstanding Australian wildflower paintings. Jean also became a decorator of pottery at the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena. It was through the pottery that she met and sometimes worked with some of the greats of Australian art including Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Albert Tucker, and a host of others. She also became a close friend of art patrons, John and Sunday Reed at their home Heide in Heidelberg


John Samuel Langley c.1928


Vera Lucy Langley
(right) in Melbourne c.1930

Jean Langley was born on a Rationalist Society commune in Mentone in 1926. Her father, John Samuel Langley was English. Born in 1889, he came to Australia in 1912. After arriving in Perth he became a schoolteacher and took up public soapbox lecturing. He was atheist and an impressive speaker. The Victorian Rationalist Association became aware of his heard of him and invited him to Melbourne - an invitation he accepted. The Association was founded in 1906. Its fundamental view was that all significant beliefs and actions should be based on reason and evidence. It aimed to promote critical enquiry into religion and what it perceived as other superstitious practices, stimulate freedom of thought, and encourage interest in science, criticism and philosophy. In 1919 he became the Associations Secretary. In 1924 he founded the Rationalist Journal, and in 1926 he became the inaugural Secretary of the Rationalists Society of Australia. Jean's mother was Vera Lucy Savige. She was born in Elsternwick in 1892 and met Jean's father through the Society. She was already a Society member, and at the age of twenty-two, on their Board of Directors. They married and lived on a Rationalist commune at Mentone. Several families lived there, on a ti-tree covered ten-acre property by the sea. Jean was born in 11th of January, 1926. She was the third of the five Langley children



Jean Langley (centre) at the Rationalist Commune at Mentone c.1931

Reflecting on her parents, Jean said, "My father was very English; proper, reserved and formal, and very gentle. The most we got in the way of a hug was a pat on the head. I liked him immensely. My mother was very gentle and kind. She wasn't the greatest housekeeper in the world, but would read at least a dozen books a week. She was well-educated and proofread all of my father's writings. On many nights they'd be in the study for hours, going through whatever he was working on. She wrote poems and stories herself. She was a literary lady of that passionate left-wing world which followed the Depression". Recalling her life on the commune, she said, "Our home was full of Rationalists and very interesting people; the conversation and discussions were vital and marvellously passionate. I may not have understood much of it, but I loved the atmosphere. Mentone wasn't that far from town and people would drive down from the city. Being a celebrant, my father married many rationalists in our house. It was a jolly place as much as anything else; serious and jolly. As our family grew, and by the time my parents had the five of us, we needed somewhere bigger to live, so they rented another place in Mentone. My parents never owned a house in their lives, because they didn't believe in it. They were Socialists. Everything was on principle. They never owned or drove a car. As children, we girls weren't given dolls or other 'girly' things, and the boys weren't allowed to have guns or war-like toys. We were just given books and more books. While my mother was a feminist and a communist, my father was not a communist, though perhaps a little 'pink'. He believed in changing the world through education". Jean loved her childhood. She said, "I spent all the time at the beach...We were dreamy little kids...as free as seagulls. I ran wild on the beach. I was popular because I was so much a madcap, and a witty and sharp little thing. How could they not like me? There was little control over us. We were given an extraordinary amount of freedom, which was wonderful. My parents believed in responsibility; I was responsible for my two younger siblings, and so on. We were taught that we had a responsibility to neighbours and society, and to ideals. The only thing we had to abide by was the truth. My father believed that children should be taught to be civilized. The Society"s principle was that one should not live with the threat of Hell and the promise of Heaven, but to do good because good is good to do. That was the sort of principle that guided their lives and our".


The Langley family, from the right, John, Jean, Elizabeth, Vera, Bob and Margaret at Mentone c.1932


Jean began her schooling at Mentone State School. She recalled, "At School there were these five children with a mad English father who lectured every Sunday night saying, 'Why believe in God?' and this sort of thing, and a mother who strode around with superior airs, and a cigarette in her hand. It made the ordinary state school kids look upon us as if we came from another planet". Jean progressed to Mordialloc High School. Remembering school, she said, "I wasn't a good student, and I didn't get any certificates of any sort, much like it had been at primary school. There were pranks, like hiding underneath the school, and going down the creek in a broken-down boat and nearly drowning. There were endless adventures; it was a continuation of the madcap spirit, but I was always interested in art. From the moment I can remember, I was drawing and planning on becoming an artist. It was my whole dream; a dream which was very foreign to my parent".. Jean left school in the early days of the War and worked as a telephonist. Wanting to be an artist, she applied for a position at Manton's department store in Bourke Street in their advertising department. They trained artists to be commercial artists. Jean took in some of her drawings and they accepted her. Jean said, "At Mantons, I trained in fashion drawing, but I didn't like it much. I got bored sitting at a desk...I talked my way into the display department. We made all the prop ourselves. We'd do drawings for the window displays, and that sort of thing. It might take a month to make a window display. I loved it". Jean was at Manton's for about two years. She lived in bungalows and rooms in inner-city Melbourne in places like St. Kilda and Prahran, saying, "We all lived like that. Melbourne was...full of people living around the city, which is very different to today".


Jean and Bob Langley at Mentone beach c.1948

 

It was while Jean was at Manton's that she got, as she said, very carried away with the idea of being a serious artist. "I was getting a broader feeling about art and people in the art world. Cinders Coffee Lounge was a meeting place. It didn't open until about half past ten at night...Theatre people, the actors and so on, would go there after a show, and have coffee and toasted raisin bread. We'd all sit around for hours and hours. I got to know some very interesting people there, including a lot of bohemians. You couldn't miss them. Through all this, I got this feeling that I wanted to be out of the commercial art world, and that this new world that I'd found was where I belonged". She recalled someone at Cinders saying to her, "Why don't you go down and see the Boyds. They're looking for someone".

Jean travelled to Murrumbeena to the Arthur Merric Boyd (or AMB) Pottery at 500 (now 502) Neerim Road, just opposite Murrumbeena Station. She remembered, "I'd heard about them, I think while I was working as a window dresser...We had a display of pottery at Manton's. The day I went to meet John Perceval and Arthur at Murrumbeena, there was a train strike, so I caught the tram to Carnegie and walked the rest of the way...I went there feeling a little nervous. They were highly regarded in the academic world, and everybody knew of them in the "arty" world. In Melbourne in those days, when I worked in Bourke Street, I knew every beard in Melbourne. To have a beard meant you were an artist, because everyone else was so clean cut. The War was just over, and everyone was very upset and neurotic and tired. I knocked on the door of the pottery in Neerim Road with my sketchbook under my arm. I remember thinking, 'What will they think of me?' and there was John and Arthur; the sweetest pair of blokes you could ever imagine. We sat there all afternoon, chatting away. I thought they were lovely and they thought I was lovely. We hit it off right from the first second. Arthur was very gentle and very sweet, John was very talkative, and I was giggly, so it was a great flow. They said, "If Neil Douglas says you can have the job, you can have the job." Neil had just taken a studio in a downstairs basement in Little Collins Street. He was doing the decorating there...Arthur and John would take the biscuited work to Neil in the city in the back of Arthur's old Dodge to be decorated. When Neil had finished decorating it, they'd take it back to Murrumbeena to be fired. When I met Neil, we hit it off straight away and worked together in his studio. My job was basically to imitate his decoration. I was supposed to almost make it look as if my decoration was his. If Neil did a coffee cup, I might do another five. This was to keep the production going. That was fine with me...I just adored these people, and was so happy to be with them. There were the two lines of pottery. There was the commercial stuff that I was decorating like coffee cups and platters, and there were the rare things which John and Arthur were doing, which were amazing".

 


Arthur Boyd (left) and John Perceval at the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena c.1945
 

Neil Douglas at the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery in Murrumbeena c.1948

 

Later, Jean worked at the pottery in Neerim Road. The building in Neerim Road that became the AMB Pottery was Selrig's butcher shop. In 1939 Arthur Boyd's sister, Lucy married Hatton Beck. That year he took over the butcher's shop and established a pottery, the Altamira Pottery there. In 1943 he sold the equipment and lease to Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and Peter Herbst. They established the Arthur Merric Boyd Pottery. Arthur named it after his grandfather, who he was very fond of and who died just a couple of years before, in 1941. Arthur had lived with his grandfather between 1936 and 1939 at Rosebud and developed many of his painting skills there and across the Mornington Peninsula. You could say that it was on the Peninsula that Arthur went from being a boy who painted, to being a painter.

The AMB pottery started by making utilitarian wares like teacups, plates, ramekins and mugs, and the like. After the War they made their more creative works including Arthur's sculptures such as Mother and Child and Judas kissing Christ, John Perceval's Delinquent Angels and Neil Douglas' marvellous bush designs on dishes and platters. In addition to Jean, others who worked at the AMB include Mary, David, Hermia and Guy Boyd, Albert Tucker, John Howley, Robert Beck, Tim and Betty Burstall, and Carl Cooper. Arthur left the pottery in the mid-1950s, with John Perceval and Neil Douglas running the business into the early 1960s, when it closed. By then Arthur was establishing his name in the UK, John Perceval was preparing to go to the UK and would so in 1963, and Neil Douglas was moving towards a career in painting and becoming involved in the alternative lifestyle and conservation movement at Warrandyte. It was through working at the AMB that Jean met others in Melbourne's lively post-war art world including Sid Nolan, Joy Hester, Fred Williams, Charles Blackman, and John Yule. This was the time when Melbourne really was the centre of art and creativity in Australia, and a centre in the world. Jean was well placed to be a part of that world.

 


Jean Langley in Sydney in 1947


Jean Langley at Mentone Beach c.1948



And it was through meeting people in the Melbourne art scene that Jean met John Sinclair, music critic for The Herald, who she would later marry. In 1947 John introduced Jean to John and Sunday Reed at their Heide home. John Sinclair had met the Reeds through his friendship with Sidney Nolan. Jean and John visited Heide frequently. "When I was visiting with John Sinclair, Sunday and I would pick the vegetables from the garden. We'd go down to the river and talk to the cows and the birds, or the platypus. Later on, she'd cook the most divine meal. John would take me into the library and give me a whiskey. Sunday would have a shower, and we'd all have dinner. Then Sunday and I would go into the sitting room and have a chat by the fire. The blokes would do the washing up and bring us coffee and maybe a liqueur. It was organised and everything was refined, without being pretentious. There were paintings and dogs and cats everywhere, and snakes would occasionally come out of the firewood". Jean was introduced to the wider Boyd family at their Open Country home in Murrumbeena, headed by Merric and Doris Boyd. Jean became a very close friend of both the Reeds and the Boyds, and in particular Sunday Reed and Doris Boyd. She had a strong sense of female comrade. She said, "You only get to know a woman if you are together without blokes or any other people, and you are sitting over a cup of tea for more than 10 minutes". Jean's friendship with the Reeds was one that endured for their entire lives. She became Sunday's closest female friend. Jean understood Sunday and the apparent contradictions in her life. One of these was that Sunday was born into a family with enormous social status and wealth, and yet rejected elements of that upbringing, all the time living what was a privileged life - she wanted the trappings of wealth without the wealth. Jean was a very sympathetic other to Sunday Reed, and they were highly supportive of each other. Jean said of Heide and the Boyds, "Heide was different to the Boyds. The Boyds were poverty stricken and the Reeds weren't, but the principles, the ethics, the thoughts and the quality of friendship were the same. I fitted in at Murrumbeena and at Heide, which was great luck, and I loved Sunday". This is what made Jean largely unique. There was no one else, perhaps apart from John Perceval, who was so comfortable, welcomed and at home at both Heide and Open Country as Jean. was through meeting people in the Melbourne art scene that Jean met John Sinclair, music critic for The Herald, who she would later marry. In 1947 John introduced Jean to John and Sunday Reed at their Heide home. John Sinclair had met the Reeds through his friendship with Sidney Nolan. Jean and John visited Heide frequently. "When I was visiting with John Sinclair, Sunday and I would pick the vegetables from the garden. We'd go down to the river and talk to the cows and the birds, or the platypus. Later on, she'd cook the most divine meal. John would take me into the library and give me a whiskey. Sunday would have a shower, and we'd all have dinner. Then Sunday and I would go into the sitting room and have a chat by the fire. The blokes would do the washing up and bring us coffee and maybe a liqueur. It was organised and everything was refined, without being pretentious. There were paintings and dogs and cats everywhere, and snakes would occasionally come out of the firewood".

Jean was introduced to the wider Boyd family at their Open Country home in Murrumbeena, headed by Merric and Doris Boyd. Jean became a very close friend of both the Reeds and the Boyds, and in particular Sunday Reed and Doris Boyd. She had a strong sense of female comrade. She said, "You only get to know a woman if you are together without blokes or any other people, and you are sitting over a cup of tea for more than 10 minutes". Jean's friendship with the Reeds was one that endured for their entire lives. She became Sunday's closest female friend. Jean understood Sunday and the apparent contradictions in her life. One of these was that Sunday was born into a family with enormous social status and wealth, and yet rejected elements of that upbringing, all the time living what was a privileged life - she wanted the trappings of wealth without the wealth. Jean was a very sympathetic other to Sunday Reed, and they were highly supportive of each other. Jean said of Heide and the Boyds, "Heide was different to the Boyds. The Boyds were poverty stricken and the Reeds weren't, but the principles, the ethics, the thoughts and the quality of friendship were the same. I fitted in at Murrumbeena and at Heide, which was great luck, and I loved Sunday". This is what made Jean largely unique. There was no one else, perhaps apart from John Perceval, who was so comfortable, welcomed and at home at both Heide and Open Country as Jean.



Jean Langley and John Sincliar at The Loft in 1949

Jean and Bob Langley in Melbourne c.1948



Heide and Open Country were highly creative environments, but they were very different. Said Jean, "Heide was very disciplined and Sunday was very domesticated. All the benches in her kitchen were scrubbed and the floor would be scrubbed. Murrumbeena wasn't like that. Murrumbeena was Aussie. There, food wouldn't have come first, but second. Conversation would have come first. I think Murrumbeena was very much a bohemian community when I arrived. Heide wasn't bohemian and I would never have called Sunday a bohemian".


Jean connected deeply with the Open Country and Heide worlds. Her sincerity, forward looking and optimistic nature, her sense of the aesthetic, and the fact that she was searching like those she met, for some universal truths and for a better way to live, allowed her to connect her these two unique and very different places in a way that few did. Jean was very sympathetic to the human condition and the dilemmas and contradictions that life brings to those that live it. Of the Melbourne art world in the 1940s and 50s she said, "There were lots of intricate relationships that went around this group. There were beautiful women and passionate men with complex relationships thrown together at boozy parties. It's very hard for people to manage life - it's hard enough trying to manage your finances and children, without all the complexities".

Jean recognized that in terms of art, women often weren't given a fair go by the men and that they could be, "...chauvinistic without really knowing it. Everybody thought we were so bloody broadminded, but it wasn't really like that, and that, "...some of the women in the group could have used a bit of encouragement and help"....But then she would talk about how very hard the men worked. "The men worked extraordinarily hard. These blokes, before they got a little recognition and a little money to live on, felt very dejected and unloved. They were very hard times for them". She also said, "I think Arthur and John and Blackman and Fred Williams and Nolan are by far the greatest painters of our generation and of my lifetime. I think they were great men, and if their women had to sublimate a bit of their (own) personality's', so what? Those women have all reaped the profits". Jean saw multiple perspectives and always searched for the meaning of things - why the world is like it is, why people do what they do, and why things should be better, but aren't.



Portrait of Jean Langley by Marie Stuart Jamieson Oil 390 x 310 mm 1950


Jean and Bob Langley at the Loft c.1950

Jean married John Sinclair on the 27th December, 1952. They bought Rose Cottage at Mentone for their first home. The cottage was originally the coachman's house for one of the area's wealthier families and came with a large rambling garden. Jean continued to work at the AMB Pottery in Murrumbeena. "Mostly my husband would drop me off at the pottery on his way to his office, anytime around 9 o'clock. I'd come in and John Perceval would say, G'day Langley", and Neil would say, "Good Morning, Good Morning", and Arthur would say, "Oh, it's young Jean." It was always the same, every morning. Then at a certain time, Perceval would come along and say, "Hey, Langley, bout time you went and got me a sandwich." I'd go down to the shop and get them all sandwiches. I always felt it was like a little family. I'd make lots of cups of tea. I remember you couldn't move for things on the benches, and saying to John, "Can I organise things?" and John saying, "Yes, Langley. What do you want?" "I want to get some cup hooks." "Right. How many cup hooks? Go down and get the cup hooks." I had cup hooks put all along the walls. I had this little housewife thing going; "I'd sweep more than they would sweep, and kept a bit of order in the place. It was all very jolly".

Jean became pregnant in 1954. Jane was born that year. In 1956 Jean separated from her husband. She remained at Rose Cottage. It was during this period that Jean and Sunday Reed became particularly close. "It was when bad things started to happen to the Reeds and bad things started to happen to me that Sunday and I developed new understandings of each other ...Sunday and I had a lot of things in common even then - gardens, flowers, the bush and of course, cats". Jean supported herself by working for David and Hermia Boyd at Sandringham, being a nanny to their children and doing their housework and so on. She was also helped by the Reeds. "The Reeds were very good to me. I was a bit too proud to tell anyone exactly how bad things were. The person who was most kind to me was Arthur. He was marvellous to me".

Over the years, Jean visited the Boyds at Open Country many times for parties and other social occasions. "The Boyd family parties were nice. Because David and Hermia always dragged me along with them while I was working for them at Sandringham, sometimes I never knew where I was going". Jean was very fond of Doris Boyd. "I would meet her in town sometimes, where she would go selling Merric's pottery...I'd always admired her immensely. She was a fragile, tiny little thing; very charming, warm and nice. She was very sweet to me. She didn't say much, but like Arthur, if she said anything it was spot on. She was a pretty impressive woman. She was a bit like Arthur...She had gentle warmth that emanated from her. On the other hand, she could be sharp if she wanted to be. She knew what she thought and was very astute. She knew who was who, and who she liked and didn't like, but you never knew, just like you'd never know who Arthur liked and didn't like. Because they never let it out unless there was a little moment when... But Doris was always very sweet. Nobody minded that Doris liked me because I kept her entertained. At a big family party at Hermia and David's place, David announced, "Jean is the only person at this party who isn't a member of the family." Doris said, "I think she is a member of the family. "Then she came up to me and said, "You're a daughter I didn't have".

Jean visited the Boyds at Open Country many times for parties and other social occasions. "The Boyd family parties were nice. Because David and Hermia always dragged me along with them while I was working for them at Sandringham, sometimes I never knew where I was going". Jean was very fond of Doris Boyd. "I would meet her in town sometimes, where she would go selling Merric's pottery...I'd always admired her immensely. She was a fragile, tiny little thing; very charming, warm and nice. She was very sweet to me. She didn't say much, but like Arthur, if she said anything it was spot on. She was a pretty impressive woman. She was a bit like Arthur...She had gentle warmth that emanated from her. On the other hand, she could be sharp if she wanted to be. She knew what she thought and was very astute. She knew who was who, and who she liked and didn't like, but you never knew, just like you'd never know who Arthur liked and didn't like. Because they never let it out unless there was a little moment when... But Doris was always very sweet. Nobody minded that Doris liked me because I kept her entertained. At a big family party at Hermia and David's place, David announced, "Jean is the only person at this party who isn't a member of the family." Doris said, "I think she is a member of the family." Then she came up to me and said, "You're a daughter I didn't have".

Jean became particularly close to Doris after Merric Boyd's death in 1959. It was during this time, in the last year of her life, that Doris became unwell and Jean visited her frequently. Jean said, "It was very sad for Doris after Merric died. Everyone had gone from Murrumbeena. Arthur and Yvonne had gone to Surf Avenue, before going overseas. John and Mary had gone to Canterbury. Mary wasn't far from Murrumbeena, but she was preoccupied with her own dramas. David and Hermia had bought the house at Sandringham. The whole scene had changed a lot for her. I was seeing quite a lot of her then. She was sad and lonely. Before that, I'd go there to parties and for social occasions, (but) I never really went by myself until she was ill. Then, I went there mainly to care for her. I knew her and felt close to her, but it was that last period that I got really close... I felt myself drawn to Doris without actually getting to know her very well. I think there is a certain chemistry with certain people, where they just seem to understand each other". became particularly close to Doris after Merric Boyd's death in 1959. It was during this time, in the last year of her life, that Doris became unwell and Jean visited her frequently. Jean said, "It was very sad for Doris after Merric died. Everyone had gone from Murrumbeena. Arthur and Yvonne had gone to Surf Avenue, before going overseas. John and Mary had gone to Canterbury. Mary wasn't far from Murrumbeena, but she was preoccupied with her own dramas. David and Hermia had bought the house at Sandringham. The whole scene had changed a lot for her. I was seeing quite a lot of her then. She was sad and lonely. Before that, I'd go there to parties and for social occasions, (but) I never really went by myself until she was ill. Then, I went there mainly to care for her. I knew her and felt close to her, but it was that last period that I got really close... I felt myself drawn to Doris without actually getting to know her very well. I think there is a certain chemistry with certain people, where they just seem to understand each other".

In 1960 Jean travelled to England with her daughter, Jane. Her father had died and left her enough for the fare. They stayed at Heide with the Reeds for a several weeks before sailing. In London Jean met up with Arthur and Yvonne Boyd, David and Hermia Boyd, Charles and Barbara Blackman, and other Australians who had made their way to the U.K. She worked for the Arts Council at the Tate Gallery selling catalogues and taking money at the door for the great Picasso Exhibition of 1960. Later she worked as a nanny to Blackmans' children.


Jean Langley Charles Blackman 1280 x 620 mm c.1961

Jean returned to Australia in 1962, living again at Rose Cottage with her husband. Her second child, Kate was born in 1963. The Sinclairs remained at Rose Cottage until 1967 when they moved to a house they purchased in The Corso at Parkdale. In 1971 Jean separated from her husband for a second time and lived for about a year at the Reeds' holiday house at Aspendale. At this time she was struggling financially and emotionally. In an act that is testament to Jean's friendship with the Reeds and an example of their generosity, John and Sunday purchased a house for Jean at Dromana, and that is where she lived. In mid-1970s Jean sold her house in Dromana and bought one in Bruce Road at Safety Beach. There, she taught landscape painting to supplement her income. Several years later Jean, Jane and Kate travelled to England, a place to which Jean was always drawn, and felt at home. She rented the Safety Beach house while she was away, as well as making it available to friends in need of a place to stay.

In England Jean became very unwell and as a consequence returned to Australia later that year and to John Sinclair at Parkdale. The Sinclairs were at Parkdale for about three years, before buying a townhouse on the beach at Aspendale. Over the years, Jean held a number of exhibitions with her brother, Robert Langley, a visual artist and ceramicist. In 1980 they held one at Mornington. She also exhibited periodically in galleries including the Von Bertouch Galleries in Newcastle and Libby Edward's Gallery in South Yarra It was at Aspendale that Jean separated from her husband for a third and final time. She remained at the house until it was sold in 1985. Shortly afterwards, she sold her house at Safety Beach. With the money from that and her share of the sale of Aspendale, Jean was able to purchase a house at 85 Grandview Terrace, Mt Martha, overlooking Arthur's Seat and Port Phillip Bay. This was where she lived for the rest of her life, and the place where she had more time to paint and to write. In her writings, Jean recorded memories and reflections of people and times she had known in Melbourne's art world of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. She wrote about friends passed, and in particular, the Reeds who had figured so prominently in her life. In the years that followed, Jean returned to the England and Europe many times, including in 2003 with Kate where they sailed the fjords of the Norwegian coast.


Jean Langley photographed by Mary Perceval c.1970

Jean was a talented painter. She painted landscapes all her life, however it was during her time at Mt. Martha that her love of landscape painting was fully realized. Her paintings of the Kangerong Valley - that space between Mt Martha and Arthur's Seat - tell of a landscape that is broad and majestic. They also stand as historical works, showing the valley as it was before the construction of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway and the Safety Beach Marina and residential development. Jean painted wildflowers. She began this in the 1960s in the Beaumaris area, and did so later with the Reeds as they travelled across Victoria and interstate. They went to the Grampians each year for Sunday's birthday, and to the Flinders Ranges in 1974. They also made frequent trips to the Dandenong Ranges and Mornington Peninsula beaches. Jean produced two books of her wildflower paintings; Australian Bush Flowers in 1970, and To a Blue Flower in 1983.



Jean Langley's first book of Australian ildflowers, published in 1970

Illustrations from
Jean Langley's 'Australian Bush Flowers'


Jean drew, principally in pencil and in ink. Her subjects included people, places and scenes of everyday life. She also drew flowers. These demonstrate the precision of Jean's line, which really was second to none. Jean grew up enjoying the beach and sea at Mentone, Parkdale and Aspendale. Much later in life, she lived at Dromana, Safety Beach and Mt Martha. Jean always felt a connection to the sea and painted it frequently. As well as writing about her past and those she had known, Jean's writings expressed her concern about the destruction of the natural environment. This distressed her greatly. She saw it occurring all around her at Mt. Martha. The loss of trees and wildlife habitat as older houses were demolished for new and bigger ones horrified her, as did the loss of landscape and natural values in the Kangerong Valley.


Jean Langley and Sunday Reed at the Grampians in western Victoria c.1970

Jean Langley, and Sunday and John Reed birdwatching at Parkdale c.1980

Jean's book Parting with Roses was published in 1993. In it she weaved memories of her childhood at Mentone, and of her garden at Rose Cottage with stories of the birds, trees and natural environment of Mt. Martha. Writing about what was happening around her Mt. Martha home, she said, 'Downhill, just below my house, a whining bulldozer clangs and bangs along the pretty yellow-earth road as a large truck stands nearby with engine running. A front-end loader with its giant iron spoon scoops up earth, trees and roots and dumps them into the truck. As one truck leaves with a load, another arrives empty but not for long. I mourn the passing of the beautiful manna gums that until recently graced our little mountain track. I see their enormous roots and massacred bodies hanging over the sides of the trucks as they are taken away. Another bulldozer, half-way up the mountain behind my house, is tearing away the bushland and digging a wide trench the length of the mountain for sewerage pipes and drainage pipes. Down come the trees. What will become of those territorial creatures, the kookaburras and possums? Where will they go?'



'Parting with Roses' by Jean Langley Published by Loch Haven Books in 1993



Early in 2017 Jean had a fall a home. This precipitated a sharp decline in her health. Jean went to Frankston Hospital and then to Mornington for rehabilitation. She then moved to a nursing home in Mount Martha. She was there for just one week. Jean died on the 15th of June, 2017. She was 91 years of age.


Jean Langley at the opening of Heide 1 in 2001

Jean Langley's passing represented the loss of another one of that special post-Second World War generation of artists who were so talented and who really believed that art could change the world, and perhaps even save it. She has left a legacy of creative works for all to enjoy.



PAINTINGS
*** Seascapes ***


Mt Martha from Rosebud
Oil 410 x 315 mm 1980

Mornington Peninsula from Seaford
Oil 410 x 315 mm 1981

Low tide West Rosebud
Oil 610 x 470 mm 1981

Anthony's Nose from Safety Beach
Oil 415 x 350 mm
1982

Mornington Peninsula from Seaford
Oil 410 x 310 mm 1975


Mornington Peninsula from Seaford
Oil 355 x 255 mm 1975

Rosebud Pier
Oil 775 x 620 mm 1976

Arthurs Seat from Rye
Oil 405 x 450 mm 1976

Sorrento
Oil 410 x 310 mm 1976

Cliffs Mt Martha from Safety Beach
Oil 505 x 605 mm 1982

Mt Martha from McCrae
Oil 515 x 415 mm 1980

Rickett's Point
Oil 505 x 400 mm 1972

Mt Martha Rocks
Oil 510 x 410 mm 1976


Safety Beach
Oil 415 x 315 mm 1978

Rye Beach
Oil 460 x 355 mm 1986



Mornington Beach
Oil 450 x 610 mm


Untitled
Oil


Untitled
Oil


Dromana Seascape

Oil 400 x 200 mm 1973

 

CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE ENLARGEMENTS.


Mt Martha from Rye
Oil 415 x 515 mm



Untitled
Oil 405 x 305 mm


Untitled
Oil 360 x 250 mm



Untitled
Oil 410 x 310 mm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


*** Landscapes ***



Dromana Landscape
Oil 260 x 215 mm 1966


Farm Main Ridge
Oil 605 x 455 mm 1970


Kangerong Valley
Oil 455 x 305 mm 1982




Kangerong Valley
Oil 610 x 415 mm 1973


Dry Grass Mt Martha
Oil 450 x 450 mm 1975


Kangerong Valley
Oil 755 x 600 mm 1979


Kangerong Valley
Oil 610 x 450 mm 1978




Kangerong Valley
Oil 610 x 360 mm 1980


Kangerong Valley
Oil 465 x 365 mm 1977




Kangerong Valley
Oil on board 610 x 415 mm 1978


The Ruthland farm in Wales
Oil 470 x 315 mm




Kangerong Valley
Oil 510 x 410 mm 1979


Apple Tree

Oil on board 510 x 410 mm
1975


Hampstead Heath (London)
Oil 420 x 315 mm 1975


Hampstead Heath (London)
Oil 510 x 410 mm 1975



Kangerong Valley
Oil 610 x 415 mm 1978

*** Drawings ***


Untitled
170 x 130 mm c.1950


Cliff Pugh
130 x 170 mm c.1950

Music at the Loft
240 x 180 mm
c. 1950

Bob Langley
290 x 230 mm c.1951

Douglas Cairns
240 x 180 mm c.1970

Mrs Coutts
c.1950

Sitting Room at Aspendale
Pencil 300 x 420 mm

Kate and Sago
Pencil 300 x 420 mm c.1980

Kate and Chris
Pencil 300 x 420 mm c.1980


Kate and Florence
Pencil 300 x 420 mm c.1980

Nude
Pencil 290 x 210 mm

Self Portrait
Pencil 300 x 420 mm

Winter Flowers
Pen 380 x 270 mm c.1995


Winter Flowers
Pen 380 x 270 mm c.1995


Garden Flowers
Pen 130 x 110 mm c.1995

Garden Flowers
Pen 150 x 80 mm c.1995

Garden Flowers
Pen 110 x 110 mm c.1995

Garden Flowers
Pen 150 x 130 mm c.1995

Garden Flowers
Pen 150 x 160 mm c.1995

Garden Flowers
Pen 130 x 160 mm c.1995

 

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This web site was conceived and written by Colin Smith, and developed by
Paul Caine and Colin Smith with the help and support of Jean Langley
All art work by Jean Langley was photographed by Paul Caine

Quotations in 'Jean Langley; A Life in Family and Art' have been taken
from interviews with Jean Langley by Colin Smith in 2002.

All art work has been reproduced with permission of copyright owners
All photographs have been reproduced with permission of copyright owners.



*** Links to other web sites by us ***

Hatton Beck

Merric Boyd His Life & His Art

Friedl Gardner : A Life In Family And Art

Doris Boyd : A Life In Family And Art


Lucy Boyd Beck A Life In Family and Art