Appears inVisual Art and Paintings

Mandy Martin

44 Gallon Drum

1979, gouache on cold pressed board

A gouache illustration of a woman in front of a drum amid sparely depicted landscape. Scene from a park in Adelaide on New Year’s Day. The model is Mandy Martin’s mother-in-law.

This work is part of Mandy Martin’s 1978-1979 ‘Queanbeyan Study Series’. Martin gradually became uneasy about depicting portraits of her neighbours in her work. Although she had made their images with consent and in friendship, as a feminist, she became concerned that they could be interpreted as too overt and voyeuristic. She began to reduce any identifiable characteristics in their features and towards the end of 1979, the figure disappeared from her work entirely, and essentially never returned.

Instead, she sought to find visual metaphor and metonym in the fragmentary details of the places where people live and work. She was intrigued by the rigid grids of picket fences, Venetian blinds and window frames, and reframed these elements in her compositions to subtly express patterns of constraint. Trees swathed tightly in plastic wrapping, the jagged patterns of deep cast shadows, and the contrast of an unruly plant against the fixed geometry of masonry became part of a rich visual vocabulary of a veiled language.


50.0 x 65.8 cm (image) 54.4 x 74.8 cm (sheet)


Visual Art


Canberra Museum and Gallery, gift of the artist 2021