Ame Bale: Her Art and Life by Peter Perry. Hardcover book published by Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum 2011, 151 pages with colour illustrations (art works) and a few black and white photographs and illustrations.
“Alice Marian Ellen Bale (1875—1955) is one of Australia’s most significant painters of flowers. She is also known for her subtle and sensitive portraits and for her many evocative studies of interiors and landscapes. She had a strong sense of independence and a firm belief in her own considerable talent, and her life was completely devoted to art. This book, the first monograph, is a valuable new source of reference on the life and work of this noted Australian artist. It contains an authoritative chronology, exhibition list and bibliography. It traces Bale’s formative influences, including that of painter and teacher Max Meldrum, and assesses her achievements and her position in the early twentieth century Melbourne art world. This publication provides a pictorial survey of wide appeal to art admirers and collectors. Of the numerous works illustrated in colour, many have been selected from private collections and have not before been on general view.”
A “painter of flowers” is not a bad thing to be remembered as. But Ame Bale didn't just paint flowers, she painted other stuff as well, all of which is quite stunning. For some reason it is her flowers that have stuck in the art appreciating publics appreciation... and this booksellers mind... as being something quite special... and it's not as if i'm a passionate fan of the painted flower as such, it's just that she seemed to have figured out how to paint flowers in a way that was quite simply, beautiful. I'm tempted to go out on limb here and even say that there is a peacefulness and tranquility in her paintings that grabs and entrances the viewer into a state of mind that would make the Dalai Lama blush.
This book was published by the Castlemaine Art Gallery (about an hours drive from where I now sit) to accompany an exhibition of Ames work. I didn't see the exhibition, but I now wish I had of.... although I most likely wouldn't have as the name didn't ring any bells with me previous to finding this book. Yes it's true, bookselling has broadened my horizons once again and Ame Bale is now on my horizon.
Reading through a brief biography of Ame, there are a few things that have caught my attention:
She came from a family of botanical appreciators, which more than likely infused her with an interest in flowers.
She had a house in Kew and another in Castlemaine, which is probably why the Castlemaine Art Gallery had the exhibition and published this book.
She never left Victoria, which I guess is not that unusual for someone in the era in which she lived, but is something that I find a bit strange, particularly considering her creative output. (Why this is strange, i'm not so sure about... I just think it's a little odd as most other creative types of that and other eras, tended to travel.)
I was talking to someone here in Clunes recently and they informed me of their interest in Australian female artists, particularly their interest in books about Antipodean ladies of a creative nature. I think this book might fit the criteria of this persons interest and if there's one person interested, I'm sure there are others... even people like me.