Zinc Works – <em>the aesthetics of the urban environment</em>

No. 93 Zinc Works – the aesthetics of the urban environment

Edith Holmes (1893–1973) was one of Tasmania’s foremost painters in the early-to-mid 20th century. Born in Hamilton in the state’s south, she studied in Sydney at the Julian Ashton Art School, before returning to live in Moonah where she sketched and painted the local surroundings. This piece is the view of the zinc works, which was established at Lutana in 1916 and developed as a key industry for Hobart, particularly during World War Two when there was a high international demand for zinc products. more...

Many of Holmes’ most accomplished works emerged in the 1940s after an intensive period of travelling to Sydney and Melbourne – meeting artists such as George Bell, Danila Vassilieff and Eveline Syme – and a series of successful exhibitions. Her work has been described by Henrik Kolenberg as, “a mild synthesis of the Impressionism of Monet or Pissarro, and the flatly-patterned compositions of Bonnard or Matisse” –’ (Henrik Kolenberg) although reflecting the influence of these artists a number of decades after their work appeared in Europe. Throughout her life, Holmes’ work retained an impressionist style with a focus on colour, composition and local subject matter.

Apart from being a prominent artist, Holmes was an avid environmentalist who expressed great affection for her local surroundings. She was actively involved in developments in Moonah and promoted careful attention to the aesthetics of the urban environment. Accordingly, her focus on the zinc works in this painting may have reflected a modernist interest in industrial progress, but it may also have been a more critical reflection on its role as an urban eyesore and potential environmental hazard.

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  • Object maker: Edith Holmes
  • Object date: c.1945 - 1950
  • Object size: 41 x 49.5 cm
  • Object location: Lutana
  • Object display location: Off Display
  • Object source: Purchased with funds provided by the Art Foundation of Tasmania, 1985
  • Accession number: AG4433