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Exhibition: Mary Alice Evatt 'Mas' 1898-1973

A fitting tribute

Melissa Boyde, Bruce Childs, Jeannette McHugh & the Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University, Anne Edwards
Melissa Boyde, Bruce Childs, Jeannette McHugh & the Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University, Anne Edwards

Bruce Childs

The Evatt Foundation was launched in 1979 as an educational and public affairs association operating to advance the ideals of the labour movement. Its name and philosophy serve to commemorate Dr Herbert Vere Evatt (1894-1965), one of Australia's greatest thinkers and one of the most influential of all Labor leaders.

Since its inception, the Evatt Foundation has concentrated on building upon the achievements of 'the Doc' (as he was affectionately known) to the benefit of all Australians. In particular, the Foundation has worked to further Evatt's vision in the areas of civil liberties, political freedom, foreign affairs and the arts, as set out in our Constitution. For the past twenty-three years the Evatt Foundation has, through its public education program of seminars, conferences and publications, established a prominent public profile.

Dr Evatt and his wife Mary Alice were lovers of the arts when the arts - especially in the ranks of labour politics - were considered effete and irrelevant, if they were considered at all. The Evatts bought many works from struggling young artists, which of course became works of great value later in their lives.

In 1990 the Evatt Executive Committee decided that an annual Art Award in the name of Mary Alice Evatt should be awarded to the best final year student artwork chosen from the annual students' exhibitions in the Bachelor of Visual Arts courses at the University of Western Sydney, Macarthur and Nepean campuses.

This year, the Committee has awarded the 2002 Art Award to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery for a catalogue of the exhibition Mary Alice Evatt 'Mas' 1898-1973. The Evatt Foundation considers this to be a fitting tribute to the memory of Mary Alice and her passionate faith in the freedom of individual expression in art.

The Bathurst backdrop

Amanda Lawson

Mary Alice Evatt's engagement with the modernist art movement in Australia is directly relevant to Bathurst Regional Art Gallery's collection and our beginnings.

Mary Alice was an important player in developing the first regional touring exhibitions in New South Wales. Many of her friends and colleagues were part of the early years of the Carillon City Festival Prize, grounding our collection in contemporary art of the 1950s.

Bathurst's significant Labor history provides another backdrop to this project, for Mary Alice's husband, Dr Herbert Vere Evatt, was a close associate of, and deputy leader to, Prime Minister Ben Chifley.

This exhibition, Mary Alice Evatt 'Mas' 1898-1973, surveys for the first time the work of an accomplished artist and lifelong advocate of contemporary art. It has been made possible through the generosity of the artists' daughter, Rosalind Carrodus, who has given not only access to private archives and loans but also a wonderful memoir of her mother. Curator Dr Melissa Boyde has undertaken research which is both comprehensive and insightful.

We are grateful to the Evatt Foundation for awarding the 2002 Mary Alice Art Award towards documentation of this exhibition. With this substantial support, and the continuing commitment of Bathurst City Council, it is with great pleasure that Bathurst Regional Art Gallery presents Mary Alice Evatt 'Mas' 1898-1973.


Bruce Childs is the President of the Evatt Foundation. Amanda Lawson is the Director of the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery. These pieces were first published as the 'Foreword' and 'Introduction' to the catalogue for the Mary Alice Evatt: 'Mas' 1898-1973 exhibition presented by the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery from 30 March to 12 May 2002.


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