Roland Wakelin

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Roland Wakelin
Born17 April 1887
Greytown, New Zealand
Died28 May 1971
EducationWellington Technical School
Royal Art Society

Roland Wakelin (17 April 1887 – 28 May 1971) was a New Zealand-born Australian painter and teacher.

Early life[edit]

Roland Shakespeare Wakelin was born on 17 April 1887 in Greytown, New Zealand. He studied at Wellington Technical School from 1902 to 1903. Shortly after, while working in the Land and Income Tax Department, he took night classes in painting under Henri Bastings. In 1908 and 1909, he visited his brother in Sydney then in 1912 joined him, then enrolled in the Royal Art Society School to study drawing and painting under Dattilo Rubbo alongside fellow students Smith, Norah Simpson and de Maistre.[1][2]


In 1913, he started working at the New South Wales Land Tax Office. In 1914, he started working as a ticket writer for Mark Foy's and David Jones department stores, then from 1916 worked for the commercial art firm of Smith and Julius. In 1919, together with Roy de Maistre, he held a two-man exhibition Colour in Art influenced by Cézanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh at Gayfield Shaw's art salon in Sydney.[3]

He worked in London as a freelance artist (spending some time in Paris) 1922–24.

On his return to Sydney in 1925 he held an exhibition of his work, largely influenced by Cézanne, at John Young's Macquarie Galleries. He was to hold frequent further exhibitions between 1928 and 1970, with a memorial exhibition held in 1972.

From 1924 to 1941, he worked for the commercial art firm of O'Brien Publicity. From 1942 to 1949, he worked in the drawing department of Edward H O'Brien[4] who were joint venturers with the PMG (now Telstra) for the end-to-end production of the Yellow Pages a local Australian Business Directory. He was in Melbourne 1950–51 teaching at the National Gallery School then in the University of Sydney from 1952 teaching part-time, mostly to architecture students. From 1956 to 1957, he toured Europe, visiting England, Holland, France and Italy.[5]

He was an affable, sociable man of considerable attainments in fields other than painting - he read widely and had a fine basso voice, with a repertoire from popular songs and Gilbert and Sullivan to Mozart and Bach.[2] Wakelin, De Maistre and Grace Cossington Smith are regarded as founding the modern movement in Sydney.[6]


He died on 28 May 1971.


  • Encyclopedia of Australian Art Alan McCulloch,Hutchison of London, 1968
  • The Australian Landscape and its Artists, Elynn Lynn, Bay Books, Sydney 1977[7]


  1. ^ Gray, Anne (7 May 2012). "Norah Simpson: Biography". Design and Art Australia Online. Retrieved 30 October 2012.
  2. ^ a b
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  6. ^ Art New Zealand
  7. ^ Lynn, Elwyn (1977). "Ronald Wakelin" The Australian Landscape and its Artists. Bay Books. pp. 98–101. ISBN 0 85835 143 - 9.