Rosalie Gascoigne / Australia 1917–99 / Lamp lit 1989 / Retro-reflective road signs on hardwood / 183 x 183cm / Purchased 1990. Mrs JR Lucas Estate in memory of her father John Robertson Blane / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Rosalie Gascoigne/Licensed by Viscopy 2017.

Rosalie Gascoigne
Lamp lit 1989

Not Currently on Display

Lamp lit is very representative work of Rosalie Gascoigne. The artist came to the fore in the mid 1970s through her installations and boxes of found objects. At the time her work was established within the tradition of revivalism and romanticism in Australian art. In the mid 1980s Gascoigne became more formal in her outlook, often using grid patterns in her compositions.

Gascoigne scavenges for the pieces used in her assemblages. She chooses items because of their beauty: how they have weathered, their changes in colour. In 1987 she wrote of her search:

On the way back to Canberra I came upon a road gang sitting among the winter tussocks having a smoko. I pulled up. Heads turned. Six men, one stare, closed ranks. . .”I want, I NEED some broken retro-reflective road signs. I am a sculptor.” They looked concertedly amused and sceptical. . . The foreman detached himself, sorted through his signs, and offered me one I didn’t want. I accepted gratefully. “Maybe”, I suggested, “I could have that lovely yellow one? It does, after all, have a hole in it.” He stretched a point and let me have it. He carried it to my car. I was touched. In the scavenging business one usually lugs one’s own.

Rosalie Gascoigne, (née Walker) was born in Auckland, New Zealand, in 1917. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland in 1937 before training as a teacher and teaching at Auckland Girls’ Grammar School between 1938 and 1942. Gascoigne arrived in Australia in 1943 to marry Ben Gascoigne, a New Zealand-born astronomer working at Mount Stromlo Observatory near Canberra.

From 1962, she studied ikebana with Norman Sparnon, a master in the Sogetsu School. Her interests continued to expand with her growing engagement in the Canberra art world. Embarking on an expedition through art and nature, she combed paddocks, dumps, factories and junkyards for discarded materials left to weather. She brought everyday life into new frames of reference.

Coming to art somewhat later in life, she held her first solo exhibition at the Macquarie Galleries, Canberra, in 1974 at the age of 57. In 1982, Gascoigne was selected for the 40th Venice Biennale, becoming the first woman to represent Australia. In 1988 she participated in the Australian Biennale where her work gained international recognition. Gascoigne’s prizes include the John McCaughey Memorial Art Prize, and the Grand Prize at the Cheju Pre-Biennale in Korea. She was awarded the Order of Australia in 1994 for her services to the arts.


Biography of Rosalie Gascoigne, Design & Art Australia Online, 2016.