When Manly Art Gallery & Museum asked me to respond to the work of Ethel Carrick Fox for the Great Wall of Manly I had only ever seen one or two of her paintings and no real idea of who she was. I now understand her significance as a trailblazing female artist whose adventurous spirit saw her challenge the status quo for women of her era. Carrick travelled the world with her husband and artistic partner E. Phillips Fox, painting ‘en plein air’ compositions that observed life wherever they were.
Ethel Carrick Fox’s paintings of women and children enjoying the beach in and around Manly resonated deeply with me as they conjure memories of school holidays spent at the beach and amongst the natural playground of the Northern Beaches. Stripes, umbrellas, hats, figures, simplified shapes, shadows and light are strong elements in Carrick Fox’s paintings. I wanted to present these same elements in a contemporary way for the Great Wall of Manly public artwork that is intertemporal and captures the essence of people, time and place.