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"When I am not painting, I feel like a shadow. Painting makes life real and gives life body." Dorothy Stoner (Kolenberg, 1992:475)
Dorothy Stoner was born in Sussex, England. Her family lived in Canada and New Zealand before moving to Tasmania. They finally settled in Hobart on the eastern shore at Lindisfarne. Encouraged to draw from childhood her natural talents as a draughtsman developed early. Her first art studies were at Hobart Technical College under Lucien Dechaineux and Mildred Lovett from 1925 to 1929. A part-time job, two free terms (1925), a scholarship (1926), doing life modelling and teaching art all helped to pay for her art studies.
During the years 1936 to 1964 Dorothy taught at both Launceston and Hobart Technical Colleges. Intense years of study were also undertaken during this time, first at George Bell’s school in Melbourne in 1939, in London under Edouard Goerg and Paris in 1949-1950. Both Melbourne and Paris were very important to her development as an artist. She returned to Hobart in 1950 after travelling to France, Italy and England. She also studied under John Passmore, Godfrey Miller and Dorothy Thornhill at East Sydney Technical College in 1961 and 1966. She worked opposite to Jack Carington Smith, distinguished Head of the Art School in Hobart and some of their most outstanding pupils included George Davis, Bea Maddock and Tony Woods. In 1964 she retired and concentrated on her art and studied occasionally in London, Paris and Sydney.
Dorothy was the first Tasmanian tutor at the Adult Education Department’s summer schools and also attended many others world wide. Other of her achievements include being a librarian and a member of the Art Society of Tasmania and having her first exhibition with them in 1929; designing for the theatre; and being included in all important survey exhibitions on Tasmanian art. Her first commercial exhibition was held at the El Dorado Gallery, Sydney in 1967 when she was sixty-three years old. She was also a foundation member of the Contemporary Art Society of Australia in Melbourne and Hobart.
Even though her first commercial exhibition was so late in her life Hendrik Kolenberg, from Art and Australia Quarterly Journal, wrote that Dorothy was an artist by compulsion who worked on her art intensively throughout her life and exhibited regularly in various group and joint shows from the 1920s. He added that she was also a formidable figure draughtswoman who was bold and expressive with confident control of form and structure.
Some of Dorothy’s most memorable works are of Mount Wellington, the Tasman Bridge, powerful portraits and figure compositions, a series of dramatic religious pictures and flower pieces. She in turn had her own portrait done when she was a life model. Edith Holmes painted a portrait of her in the 1930s and Mildred Lovett produced two fine figure lithographs based on Dorothy.
Joerg Andersch wrote in the Saturday Mercury (09.09.89) that not only was Dorothy a good painter but she had a distinct style and sense of appreciation of it, which is rare and elusive to most artists. Dorothy Stoner’s work is represented in the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian National Gallery, and the Art Gallery of NSW as well as in Tasmanian public and private collections.
Germaine, Max (1991) A Dictionary of Women Artists of Australia. Craftsman House: Roseville East.
Kolenberg, Hendrik (1992) Dorothy Stoner. Art and Australia Quarterly Journal (serial) (vol 30:475)
Kolenberg, Hendrik (1983) Edith Holmes Dorothy Stoner: two retrospectives. Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery: Hobart