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Virginia Coventry (b.1942, Melbourne) studied painting at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) (1960-64), and completed her Post-graduate studies in Painting at the Slade School, University College, London (1968).

Virginia Coventry’s body of work over the last forty years has explored relationships between light, spatiality and colour – primarily through painting, drawing and collage; however she produced several photo-based works and installations throughout the 1970s. She uses the language of abstraction to translate our innermost responses to embodied experience. Coventry continues to explore the ‘acoustics’ of colour – a concept that highlights the way we use terms such as tones, keys, pitches in association with colour and sound.

In some of her most ambitious works from the 1970’s Coventry set herself the task of bringing some of the qualities of her large scale abstract paintings to the practice of photography – emphasising the physical reality of the photographic paper, stressing the formality and the constructed character of the image, exploring effects of scale, and devising images that related directly, physically to the viewer’s bodily experience of space, light and colour. In the early 1980’s Coventry compiled and edited The Critical Distance: Work with Photography/Politics/Writing (Hale and Iremonger, Sydney, 1986).

In 1999, Coventry was awarded the Cité Internationale des Arts Paris Studio by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Coventry’s works have been exhibited throughout her career regularly at Watters Gallery, Sydney; Helen Maxwell Gallery, Canberra; and Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney.

Coventry’s work has been included in several exhibitions in public museums in Australia including The Light of Open Spaces: A Survey of Virginia Coventry’s Work (2004); the first exhibition to survey the body of work produced after the Paris residency in 1999, and was curated by Terence Maloon for the Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra; In Place (2007), The Tin Sheds Gallery, Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, The University of Sydney; Biennale of Sydney: European Dialogue (1979), Art Gallery of New South Wales; and Six Series (1978), National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Coventry was a finalist in the Sulman Prize (2004, 2008, and 2009) at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Coventry’s work is represented in many significant public and private collections nationwide including the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Ian Potter Museum of Art, Melbourne; the Centre for Contemporary Art, Hamilton, New Zealand, and the New England Regional Art Museum.

Coventry lives and works in New South Wales.


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