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Ken Whisson: Painting & Drawing

A major monograph on one of Australia’s foremost artists, Ken Whisson (1927–2022), is now available to pre-order.

Authored by Quentin Sprague and designed by Small Tasks, Ken Whisson: Painting & Drawing will be co-published by Drill Hall Gallery Publishing and The Miegunyah Press in November.

Richly illustrated with over 300 plates, and drawing on extensive interviews and archival research, the book charts a seven-decade course through Whisson’s unwaveringly idiosyncratic practice. It covers his early years in Melbourne, his long residence in the Italian city of Perugia, and his return to Australia in 2014. The picture that emerges is of an artist driven by the vagaries of memory and an enduring belief in creative intuition: a combination that resulted in one of the most original bodies of work in Australian art.

I have a distinct impression when working that the painting takes place at the point where the brush touches the canvas … Our rational and conscious mind looks on and even criticises what is happening, but in the moment of creation at its fullest, one’s own eyes and mind – one’s own self looking on – are caught totally by surprise.

Ken Whisson, 1994

About the author

Quentin Sprague is a writer based on Australia’s south-east coast, on Wadawurrung country. His essays and criticism have appeared in The Monthly, The Australian, Art & Australia, and Discipline, and in artist monographs and exhibition catalogues published by (among others) the National Gallery of Victoria, the Monash University Museum of Art, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney. His first book, The Stranger Artist, won the 2021 Prime Minister’s Literary Award for nonfiction.

536 pages, 400 colour illustrations, 300 x 240 mm, section-sewn binding, clothbound hardcover with half jacket.


The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.