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Introducing our RAH Art Galleries

Arts in RAH

In line with the Centre for Creative Health’s (CCH) vision to make the Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH) a bright and warming environment for patients and visitors through art, we’re excited to announce the names of the three art galleries which are now spread through the world-class hospital.

Located in areas, E, F and G of the hospital, the galleries have each been named after prominent South Australian born artist who enjoyed national and international success for their work. The three galleries are called the Ivor Hele, Margaret Preston and Bessie Davidson Galleries with each of these prominent artists also having specific links to hospitals throughout their careers.

Every few months a different local artist will be nominated to showcase their work in these galleries, where visitors will have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the art pieces as they walk through the corridors of the RAH.

Sir Ivor Hele – Gallery E

Sir Ivor Heles depiction of Australian’s at war, which shared both bravery and suffering, defines what a hospital is all about – providing dignity to people whilst they are facing adversity and in some cases fighting for their life.

An Australian artist noted for his portraiture, Sir Ivor Hele (1912-1993) was Australia’s longest serving war artist and completed more commissioned works than any other in Australian art history.

In 1936 Ivor’s painting The Proclamation won first prize in a competition to mark the Centenary of South Australia and in 1938 a major work, Sturt’s Reluctant Decision to Return won the Commonwealth sesquicentenary prize. In June 1940, he sailed for the Middle East as a private soldier in the 2nd Australian Imperial Force in the Second World War and just a year later became an official war artist with the rank of captain.

Ivor is best known for his portraits, figure studies and war scenes which are currently held by the Australian War Memorial, he also painted many landscapes of the South Australian coast. Ivor completed the portrait of Sir Constantine Trent Champion de Crespigny, the first chairman of the Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, which until recently hung in the RAH library foyer and now is in the care of the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Margaret (Rose) Preston – Gallery F

Margaret (Rose) Preston believed strongly in the importance of arts in health, having taught shell-shocked soldiers ceramics, basket making and printmaking at Seale Hayne Neurological Hospital in Devon.

One of Australia’s leading modernists of the 20th century, Margaret (Rose) Preston (1875-1963) was an Australian painter and printmaker. Throughout her career Margaret cemented her place as the most prominent woman artist in Australia at the time, most notably receiving the first commission to a woman artist from the now Art Gallery of New South Wales. Margaret also worked with woodcuts, linocuts and monotypes and created over 400 prints with the majority of featuring native flora, fitting perfectly with the theme of lift F at the RAH.

Margaret believed Indigenous Australian art was the key to forming a national art that reflected the ancient history of Australia, and in the 1940’s Indigenous Australian motifs, symbols and colour schemes became prominent in some of her pieces. Her work continues to be exhibited with the National Gallery of Australia.

Bessie Davidson – Gallery G

During World War I in 1914 Bessie Davidson nursed in a number of military facilities with the French Red Cross before running her own hospital for the wounded, specialising in patients who had contracted serious diseases such as typhoid and cholera.

Bessie Davidson (1879-1965) was an Australian painter well known for her landscapes and interiors. She spent majority of her life in Europe, becoming the founding member of Salon des Tuileries and the vice-president of La Société Femmes Artistes Modernes and the Société Nationale Indépendentes.

Bessie was proud of her Australian roots portrayed through the light and colour in her work. In 1967 she was remembered with an exhibition of her work in Adelaide and her works have been purchased by the National Gallery of Australia and several state galleries.