Menzies Art Brands



A city dweller for most of his life, Howard Arkley was drawn to the orderliness of suburbia in the same way Fred Williams was drawn to the Australian bush. Both men studied and explored these landscapes on a macro and micro level, painting the rhythms and forms which defined their surrounding environments. Williams studied particular aspects of the subjects which fascinated him, simplifying forms to an almost abstract level such as the Forest series of the early 1960s. Arkley used large flat planes of colour outlined in angular black lines to depict the carefully manicured sensibility of Australian suburbia. His use of spray paint did not allow for fine detail in his work however the artists simplified depictions of suburban architecture have become characteristic of his highly individual style.

Howard Arkley had for many years the desire to create a complete virtual display home and, after creating numerous exhibitions exploring the exteriors and interiors and domestic suburban housing, in 1997 his vision became reality. The exhibition Howard Arkley: Fabricated Rooms, was the result; thirteen canvasses joined together depicting the interior of a suburban dwelling. It allowed the viewer to stroll through, room by room, as though inspecting a model project home. The following year, Arkley took this idea further with his exhibition Sampling in 1998. Tolarno Galleries was transformed into a showroom displaying samples of finishes and fixtures, referencing commercial home furnishing outlets.

Curlicue Console was included in the Sampling exhibition and was displayed on a wall with other similar works, creating a home show effect. The work has three panels, each with a different pattern, presented on a shelf as decorative options for the home-maker. These patterned swatches include graffiti-style work from earlier in Arkleys career, while others play on the optical principle of Moir patterning, which the artist first explored in the Pointillist Suburb series in 1994.1


1. Gregory, J., Howard Arkley: Fabricated Rooms 1997 and Sampling 1998, Tolarno, November December 1998, Arkley Works,, accessed 28 June 2017

Caroline Jones MArt Admin.

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