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Home Sweet Home: works from the Peter Fay collection
11 October – 18 January 2004

Ken WHISSON | Dark sail | 1967
Ken WHISSON
Lilydale, VIC, Australia 1927
Dark sail 1967
oil on board
62.5 X 91.5
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I suppose it was through Rosalie that I really got to look at these Ken Whissons and just adored them; they were fantastic

PF I suppose it was through Rosalie that I really got to look at these Ken Whissons and just adored them; they were fantastic. I eventually met Ken, and had bought a series of drawings, and then another work came up which I bought, which I knew that the Gallery wanted, so I knew that it would eventually go to a good home.

And Ken was so overcome by that he just said to me ‘You go into Watters Gallery in Sydney and you take any work of mine that you want. Seeing you’ve given a work away I would be very happy for you to have it.’

And I couldn’t believe it. So in I went and there was this large holding of his work at Watters [Studio], and I looked through it all and oh, it was easy to pick a work, but which one? And then I noticed that there was another, where they’d pulled this work out way back in the stock room, and there was a work still sticking out from somebody else’s stack of paintings, and I said ‘That looks like a Wisson!’.

And I pulled it out and it was this Dark sail painting, and I just went weak at the knees, and I said ‘That’s it. It’s fantastic’.

And I wrote to Ken straight away and I said ‘Ohhh, I’ve just picked this extraordinary painting. It’s just so raw, and strong, and immediate…’ and all of these things, and Ken wrote back and he said ‘You picked the best’.

And really, I’ve had a very long correspondence with Ken over the years and he’s so strong in his opinions, which I really like, and he’s got an extraordinary mind for detail; he remembers at seventeen being in Nolan’s studio when Nolan was painting his really great works, so there are lots of sort of references back into other objects and other paintings in the collection through Ken, and he’s a great repository that way, but I just think this painting is an absolute ‘key’; it’s one of the lynch pins in my collection, and I’m just thrilled it’s come my way, especially in the way it was given to me.

A very important piece.