Artist's Biography

Born in Ingham, Queensland in 1925. Painter, teacher, tapestry designer and printmaker.

Served in the Royal Australian Navy for over three years during World War II and after discharge studied at East Sydney Technical College under CRTS 1947-50. He also taught there from 1959-66; At this stage, in addition to producing paintings, he had started designing tapestries which became a very important aspect of his work; To further his experience in this field, Coburn and his family went to France in 1969 and lived there for three years; Worked in Paris with an old-established tapestry weaving firm whose ateliers are in the Aubusson area; This same firm was responsible for the weaving of his Sydney Opera House curtains, “The Sun” and “The Moon”; After returning to Australia, Coburn became Head of the National Art School at East Sydney Technical College for two years; He now devotes all his time to painting, making prints and designing tapestries; Trustee of Art Gallery of New South Wales 1977.

One-man shows at Gallery of Contemporary Art, Melbourne 1957; Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 1958, 1960 and 1967; Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane 1962, 1964 and 1966; Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney 1963 and 1965; Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 1964; Bonython Gallery, Adelaide 1965, 1969 and 1971; Bonython Gallery, Sydney 1966, 1968, 1971 and 1973; von Bertouch Gallery 1967 and 1976; Australian Sculpture Gallery, Canberra 1969; Macquarie Galleries, Canberra 1967 and 1970; Galerie Verriere, Paris 1971; Australian Embassy, Washington 1971; Gimbels East, New York 1972; Lister Gallery, Perth; Australian Galleries, Melbourne 1968, 1972, 1974, 1976 and 1978; Anna Simons Gallery, Canberra 1975; Stadia Graphics Gallery, Sydney 1975; Lister Gallery, Perth and The Town Gallery, Brisbane 1976; Genesis Galleries, New York 1977; Martin Gallery, Townsville 1977; Barry Stern Gallery, Sydney 1977, 1979 and 1982; Rex Irwin Gallery, Sydney 1977; Australian Galleries, Melbourne 1978 and 1981; von Bertouch Galleries, Newcastle 1979 and 1982; Philip Bacon Galleries and St Johns Cathedral, Brisbane 1978; Solander Gallery, ACT 1980; Quentin Gallery, Perth 1983 and 1986; Further solo shows Barry Stern Gallery 1985; Australian Galleries 1985 and 1986; Philip Bacon Galleries 1985; Solander Gallery, Canberra 1986; Cooks Hill Gallery, Newcastle 1986; Macquarie Galleries 1987, 1988 and 1989; World Expo, Brisbane 1988; Eddie Glastra Gallery, Sydney 1988; Galerie Pinton, Paris; San Giorgio in Poggiale, Bologna 1988; Central Artists Hall, Moscow 1989; BMG, Adelaide 1989; The Christensen Fund Collection at AGNSW 1980; Group shows between 1961 to 1974; Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil; Whitechapel Gallery, London; “Australian Painting Today”, Europe; “Young Australian Painters”, Japan; Expo 67, Montreal; “Aubusson Tapestries”, Tokyo, Manila, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth; “Aubusson Tapestries”, Galerie Garnier, Paris; “Australian Printmakers”, South-East Asia; “Australian Paintings and Tapestries of the Past Twenty Years”, London; Joint exhibition of tapestries with Alexander Calder, John Wanamaker’s Gallery, Philadelphia; Expo 74, Spokane Washington 1974; Art Sacre, l’Orangerie de Versailles 1977; Joint exhibition of Tapestries and Screenprints with Alun Leach-Jones, India and New Zealand 1979; Contemporary Australian Printmakers, USA 1980; Australian Screenprints, Australian State and Regional Galleries 1982; Tapisseries d’Aubusson Contemporaines, Galerie Pinton, Paris 1986; Also in 1988 – tapestries, The Seasons, were exhibited at the Pinton Galerie, Paris, and in the church of San Giorgio in Poggiale, Bologna. His Kakadu series of paintings was hung in the Australian Embassy in Paris, and he also designed the settings for Voyage Within by the Western Australian Ballet Company.

Bathurst Prize 1959; Blake Prize 1960; Tamworth Prize 1962; Darcy Morris Memorial Prize 1963; Young Prize for religious art 1963; Maitland Prize 1965; Blake Prize (shared with Rodney Milgate) 1977; Award AM for services to the arts 1980; PCA Patron Print 1984.

Vatican Museum, Rome; Graphische Sammlung Albertina, Vienna; The John F. Kennedy Centre for the Performing Arts, Washington; Sydney Opera House; National Gallery, Canberra; State Galleries of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia; Gold Coast City Art Gallery; Newcastle Region Art Gallery; Rockhampton Art Gallery; Bendigo Art Gallery; Australian National University, Canberra; University of Texas, Austin; Many private and institutional collections in Australia and overseas.

Who’s Who in Australia 1977; Australian Painting 1788-1970, Bernard Smith, Oxford University Press 1974; Modern Australian Painting and Sculpture, Griffin Press, Adelaide 1960; John Coburn’s Curtains, Art and Australia, Daniel Thomas, Vol 11/3; Encyclopedia of Australian Art, McCulloch, Hutchinson 1977; Directory of Australian Printmakers 1976.