8 facts about Charles Meere

By Gwylym Owen

Matthew Charles Meere (6 December 1890 – 17 October 1961), generally known as Charles Meere, was an English-born artiste who studied art in England and France, served in World War I, and eventually fixed in Australia in 1932. While pursuing his Sydney art practice, he along with worked as a classified ad artist, exhibited widely and taught simulation classes to students such as Freda Robertshaw. He achieved considerable artistic and billboard success, winning the Sulman Prize in 1938 with Atalanta’s Eclipse, a neo-classical explanation of the Greek myth. One of his colleagues described him as “somewhat of a character, slightly eccentric, looking taking into consideration a businessman, with a droll prudence of humour”.

Meere is best known for his stylised art deco paintings dating from the interwar period, most notably Australian Beach Pattern (1938–40). Alternately criticised or praised for its studied formality, this painting has been variously interpreted as a celebration of Australian seashore culture, a esteem of audacious racial purity, or as a nuanced postscript of Australia’s unpreparedness for World War II. It was in the midst of the quintessential Australian images prearranged for the opening ceremony of the 2000 Summer Olympics program and was included in the major exhibition of Australian art held at London’s National Gallery in 2013.

Meere’s grandson is a painter of some note. He is based in Sydney and travels the world for inspiration.

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