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Howard Arkley

Questions and Activities

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Further Research and Discussion

Colleagues and collaborators

The early working relationship Arkley shared with Elizabeth Gower was very important in the development of this career as an artist. What are some of the shared concerns that you have discovered in the work of both Arkley and Gower?

The artist Jenny Watson also painted suburban houses, most notably the Box Hill series of houses she had lived in. Compare the house as a theme in the work of Arkley and Watson, and note some of the similarities and differences.

An individual style

Arkley’s work as an artist evolved over a career that spanned more than 27 years from his early exhibition in 1972 until his death in 1999. What are some of the commonalities of ideas, concepts and themes Arkley developed over this time?

Inspiration and influences

The Surrealists were the first to consider the impact of the subconscious mind in the hands of an artist. Arkley demonstrated this approach through the process of producing the work Primitive. Do you think there are other surreal factors in Arkley’s painting? If so what do you think they are?

Research the following artists/art movements, and consider how they might have inspired or influenced Arkley:

  • Albrecht Durer
  • Fernand Leger
  • Paul Klee
  • De Stijl Movement and Piet Mondrian
  • Keith Haring

Arkley was passionately interested in Popular Culture. Explore what aspects of popular culture influenced his work, and how.

Interiors and exteriors

Collect examples of some of the source materials that inspired Arkley, including drawings from real estate advertising, interior design books and magazines, and shopping catalogues. Why might these images have inspired Arkley, and how did Arkley use them in his work?

How have representations of houses and interiors changed over time?

Why have drawings of houses disappeared from Real Estate advertisements? How might houses be advertised in the future?

Australian suburban life

Compare and contrast a work by Arkley with that of another artist inspired by aspects of suburban life, eg Elizabeth Gower, Robert Rooney, Jon Campbell, Constanze Zikos etc…

Research the work of architects Peter Corrigan and Maggie Edmond. What does their work have in common with Arkley’s oeuvre?

Arkley’s Legacy

Read the Arkley’s Legacy section of this website and write your own statement summarising the impact of Arkley’s practice on contemporary Australian art.

Recently, the long–running Australian television series Neighbours introduced an opening image influenced by Arkley. What might this suggest to you about the relationship between art and the wider world, and the influence of Arkley’s work?

The role of a gallery in supporting Arkley and his career is significant. Research the history of Tolarno Galleries, and the importance of the relationship Arkley had with its founding director, Georges Mora.

Arkley undertook collaborative projects with other artists of his acquaintance, including Juan Davila. Explore the impact of these collaborations on Arkley and his collaborators


NGV: Art like never before