100 treasures

Winthrop Hall ceiling beams
Winthrop Hall ceiling beams
George Benson, Winthrop Hall ceiling beams, 1931
Melbourne artist George Benson was commissioned by the building's architect Rodney Alsop to paint the ceiling of Winthrop Hall. Alsop had been in correspondence with the Lord Abbot of New Norcia and Daisy Bates regarding suitable Aboriginal designs. Bates suggested the art of the North-West should be used. Benson, however, selected from a range of designs from across the country. His concern was for colour and pattern rather than accuracy. The ceiling became the first major artwork in Australia based on Indigenous art. Benson also included ten caricatures (two unfinished) of various local dignitaries, of which only four have been identified: Dr James Battye, Sir Walter James, Judge John Northmore and Dr William Somerville.
Caption: Robyn Taylor
Photo: John Barrett-Lennard (portraits)