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2021: Elizabeth Newman

Work Details

Elizabeth Newman
What makes this poem beautiful? 2021
Colour screen-print
59.4 x 42 cm
Framing: 71 x 53.5 cm – Victorian Ash frame, UV70 non-reflective glass, float mounted artwork on warm white museum mat board
Edition of 25
Printing: Trent Walter at Negative Press, Melbourne
Framing: United Measures, Melbourne

So much darkness, 2021
Colour photopolymer gravure 
59.4 x 42 cm
Framing: 71 x 53.5 cm – Black painted hardwood frame, UV70 non-reflective glass, float mounted artwork on black museum mat board
Edition of 25
Printing: Trent Walter at Negative Press, Melbourne
Framing: United Measures, Melbourne

$1500 Each framed

$3000 Pair framed

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Gertrude is delighted to announce the release of the 2021 Gertrude Edition, contributed by celebrated artist Elizabeth Newman. The Gertrude Editions is an initiative instigated in 2002 as an annual series of specially commissioned limited-edition works of art to raise funds to support Gertrude’s Artistic Program and promote connections between current studio artists and previous generations of leading Australian artists who have participated in the Studio Program or Exhibition Program of Gertrude. For the 2021 Gertrude Edition, Newman has contributed two interrelated text-based prints each available in a limited edition of 25.


Newman’s connection to Gertrude extends back to the inception of the organisation, being one of the first artists to join the Studio Program in 1985. Maintained ongoing connection points since, she has contributed works and projects to the exhibition program across multiple decades, including The End of Time. The Beginning of Time (2017); Catching Trucks (2011); Parallel Structures (2002); Quiddity (1987); and Slouching Towards Bethlehem (1986).


Newman is one of the most revered Australian artists of her generation, evolving a practice that is strident in its discipline and consistency. Frequently inspired by language, yet not beholden to a fixed state of meaning or interpretation, the artist is perpetually enamoured by a poetic sense of flux and interchangeability. The works offered by Newman could be regarded as opposing reflections on the upheaval wrought over the past years through the global pandemic. In many ways, the two works could be considered as differing perspectives or emotive responses to the same situation. So much darkness features scruffily rendered black text upon a hastily darkened background. It is a mood capture, yet without anger, something of an acknowledgement without judgement. It holds an urgency of production that reflects a moment of clarity in calling something what it is, defining a moment and perhaps through this, disempowering it.

A similar capacity for emotional nuance plays out in What makes this poem beautiful? It poses a question that is ultimately evasive, asking at once what are the characteristics of an unspecified prose that could be considered beautiful, while also asking a fundamental question of whether the prose is indeed beautiful at all? The phrase harks back to previous titles employed by the artist, showing her capacity for self-referentiality in her practice, while remaining whimsically non-committal and non-directive, even over duration. Each work, and both works, hold a fluidity of interpretation dependent on one’s mood and predilection that are characteristic of Newman’s practice, allowing her work to speak without directing what it ought say. ‘I like to bring ‘the nothing’ into being, for some reason. Making a cut, finding a hole; pointing to a void…’ says Newman. ‘I am not the active agent in the art making. I let the work make itself and show itself to me, and then ‘I’ have a look at it, see what I think about it, and see what it is ‘about’ …’

Significant recent solo exhibitions include the museum survey exhibition Is that a ‘No’?, Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane, Australia (2020), as well as selected solo exhibitions: Elizabeth Newman, Neon Parc, Melbourne, (2021); So many lights and so much darkness, Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney (2018); Elizabeth Newman: Drawings 1984 -1992, State Library of Victoria, Melbourne (2016); and Elizabeth Newman, NADA Cologne, Germany (2013). A survey exhibition of the artist’s practice will be presented at the Drill Hall Gallery at the Australian National University, Canberra in late 2021.


Each edition has been produced by master printmaker Trent Walter of Negative Press. The editions are framed to the artist’s specifications by United Measures.


Elizabeth Newman is represented by Neon Parc, Melbourne; Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney; and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles.

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