Colour rhythm

Kathleen O'CONNOR: artist

Not On Display

About the work

A daughter of C. Y. O'Connor, the engineer who designed Fremantle Harbour and was responsible for the construction of the Goldfields pipeline, Kathleen O'Connor is considered to be a Western Australian artist although she spent most of her life in Paris. As a young woman she left Perth in 1907, having found only restricted opportunities for art and little stimulation for an eager enquiring mind. The first Art Gallery was under construction but there were only a few good works for study in the Collection.

She began studies in Paris when the ideas of impressionism were being explored and these she incorporated in her own style. Greatly influenced and stimulated by contact with other artists, such as Marc Chagall and Amedeo Modigliani, she absorbed the atmosphere of enquiring questing excitement with enthusiasm.

Painting mainly still lifes, flowers and portraits, she exhibited at the Salon d'Automne, Galeries J. Allard and Societe des Artistes lndependents. She was noted for many small and charming studies of people in Luxembourg gardens and parks.

Her activities included designing fabrics and writing notes on Paris fashions. She also wrote art notes for publication in Perth but these generally were beyond the limited understanding of prevailing art appreciation.

Kate O'Connor lived mainly in Paris for over fifty years and for a decade spent several months of each year in Monte Carlo. She returned four times to Australia but was always drawn back to Europe.

A retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1948 showed her thorough understanding of impressionist technique and her individualistic approach to subject matter.

In 1965 she returned to Perth and said she would stay in Australia because there was nobody left whom she knew in Paris.

A colourful and forthright personality, as indicated by her enterprise in leaving her home to seek the right environment at a time when young women were sheltered by convention, she is represented in Australian State art collections and in private collections in many parts of the world.

Ella Fry, Gallery Images, St George Books, Perth, 1984
Colour rhythm
Artist/Maker and role
Kathleen O'CONNOR: artist
c 1928
mixed media on cardboard
78.5 x 98.0 cm
95.0 x 114.7 cm (framed)
Credit line
Purchased through The Art Gallery of Western Australia Foundation, 1995
The State Art Collection, The Art Gallery of Western Australia
Accession number

This is one of the paintings in our collection.