Artist's Biography

Sam Fullbrook was born in Sydney on 14 April in 1922. He was known as a lyrical painter of expressionist subjects and portraits. Fullbrook used a variety of mediums, including oil, watercolour and pencil.

His poetic and romantic paintings were known for their airiness and the use of high-keyed translucent colours such as lime, viridian, rose and violet.  His simple yet descriptive style stemmed from his excellent drawing skill and his unique ability to capture forms and emotion, with the use of simple lines and beautiful colour.  Fullbrook said of his work that he aimed “to paint good pictures that children will love, to combine in my work tenderness, sweetness, charm, clarity, succinctness, love, passion and religion”.

His first recollection of an interest in art emerged when he was working as timber cutter and stockman in the Gloucester district of New South Wales. During this time he enjoyed sketching but any desire to become an artist was postponed due to the outbreak of World War Two.

During the war Fullbrook served in the AIF in the Middle East, New Guinea and New Britain and during his service he found some time to complete some oil paintings in New Britain. After his discharge he took the opportunity under the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Training Scheme to further his interest in art by studying at the National Gallery School of Victoria, where he studied for three years from 1946 to 1948 under the well-known artist, Sir William Dargie.

After a period of working and painting in North Queensland, he moved to live at the McLeod Mining Development Co-operative in the Pilbara region of north western Australia.  During this time he completed many of his paintings of Aboriginals.After some years in W.A. he moved briefly to Sydney and the Darling River area before returning once again to Queensland where he lived and painted for several years.

During his career, Fullbrook held many successful exhibitions, mainly between 1948 and 1971. His exhibiting ability was severely curtailed in the early 70’s when his studio caught fire and much of his work was lost

His first group showings were at Tye’s Gallery in Melbourne in 1948 and at the Waterside Workers Rooms in Sydney in 1951. Sam Fullbrook’s numerous solo exhibitions have included exhibitions all over Australia, at several galleries, including: the Adult Education Gallery, Perth 1955; Australian Galleries, Melbourne 1960, 1979, 1985, 1986; Moreton Galleries, Brisbane 1961, 1965, 1967; Clune Gallery, Sydney 1961 and 1966; Bonython Gallery, Adelaide in 1961 and 1979; Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane in 1962; Skinner Gallery, Perth 1962; Macquarie Galleries, Sydney 1962; South Yarra Galleries, Melbourne 1964; David Jones Gallery, Sydney 1970 and 1971; Queensland Art Gallery (tribute exhibition), 1976; Rex Irwin Gallery, Sydney 1978 and 1982; Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane 1980 and 1989; Lister Galleries, Perth 1982.   He also exhibited his work in the United States of America at The Gallery Space, New York in 1989. Sam Fullbrook was also represented in a number of survey exhibitions, including the Bicentennial exhibitions “The Great Australian Art Exhibition 1788-1988” and “The Face of Australia”.

Fullbrook won numerous art wards and prizes, including: the Wynne Prize for landscape painting in 1963 & in 1964 (shared); David Jones’ Art Prize in 1966; H. C. Richards Memorial Prize (painting); Townsville Prize in 1967; H. C. Richards Memorial Prize (painting); L. J. Harvey Memorial Prize (drawing) 1969; Maude Vizard-Wholohan Prize in 1970 and the Archibald Prize for Portraiture in 1975.

Fullbrook also painted numerous portraits of important personalities. In 1977 he was commissioned by the Historic Memorials Committee of the Commonwealth Government to paint the portrait of former Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, which was the subject of some controversy when it was first shown in 1978 and was subsequently rejected from hanging in Parliament House in Canberra.

Sam Fullbrook died in 2004 and his paintings are represented in important public collections, including: National Gallery, Canberra; State Art Galleries in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania; University collections at Queensland, Townsville, Monash and Perth; the Mertz Collection, USA; Art Museum at Phoenix, Arizona; and many other commercial and private collections in Australia and overseas.