Two More Brushmen of the Bush: John Pickup & Hugh Schulz

Today we will conclude our look at the Outback of Australia through the eyes of the Brushmen of the Bush. We are going to look at some of the works of John Pickup and Hugh Schulz. I have read that Jack Absalom is the only surviving member of the group but I have not been able to confirm that John Pickup has died.

John Pickup (1931- ) was born in Sydney and became a radio broadcaster. He first went to Broken Hill as a regional manager for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. In 1962 he started painting seriously. At some point he purchased and restored an old church in the gold mining town of Silverton (not far from Broken Hill) from which he ran a gallery and museum. The style of John Pickup is very different to the other Brushmen and his subject matter is far more diverse. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to locate a great many works but the ones I found are very unusual as illustrated by way he has created Bull Dogging. Rider and horse dominant over the bull, emerging from the dust. Quite fabulous.

John Pickup has commented: "I find that literary work and films are a great source of inspiration - often in ways I didn't first expect," he says. (Ref: Characters from Peter Carey's 'Bliss', Patrick White's 'The Vivisector' apparently have been painted by John Pickup. I have found Don Quixote at the Waterhole. As Pickup said: "I'm just taken with the idea of a Spanish Knight coming to the outback of Australia on his impossible quest." This painting by Pickup is titled Shades of Matt Buchanan. I have tried to find an explanation without success. But fascinating subject matter.
And this work (untitled) is very interesting in the use of the yellow/gold and greens to depict what looks like the beginning of a muster or a horse race in the outback.

Fortunately At the Races is far more conventional and easily understood.

John Pickup’s figures are full of character and history. This is a Nun Reading.

A Pioneer Woman, whistful, perhaps remembering a country and family far away.
The Drover with his steely resolve. This is my favourite John Pickup painting titled The Boundary Rider. Again the use of the yellow/gold and green tones creating a very spectacular painting of the lone rider against the elements.

I believe that John Pickup was a balloon pilot for 18 years around Broken Hill and there are paintings containting images of hot air balloons which I have failed to find.

We will now move onto Hugh Schulz (1921-2005), a miner, a prospector. I will start by quoting words about Hugh from John Pickup
"Hugh [Schulz] was ... a gentle soul," says John. "Which is unusual because during the war he was actually a commando. [Hugh's work] is a magnificent use of a naive approach to art. You can see the love Hughie would put into his paintings. A tremendous amount of detail ..." (Ref: I have chosen to start with *Camels in the Outback to illustrate the point about the amount of detail Hugh Schulz inserted into his outback scenes.
Schultz had a very different view of the outback employing his naive style to create enchanting landscapes with none of the fierceness or the strong dramatic contrasts present in the paintings of the other Brushmen. Whilst the palette of Schultz is soft and often muted, there is a strong attachment to pattern and shape as seen here in Inland Waters.
In my analysis of the paintings, I can see a desire to portray the unity of all the elements that go to make up desert or outback landscapes. Everything has its place which blends into the rest of the scenery. Look at this painting of Emu Chicks near the Barrier Range and note how well camouflaged they are. And perhaps you missed their parents in the middle ground?
There are emus in this Daytimes Outback painting, traversing the land whilst the white cockatoos fly, in formation, above.
Now we can see the emus crossing the road but note the camourflaged bodies on either side blended into the stubby brush. And note again the shape and colour pattern of the vegetation.
Schulz has made it blatantly clear however, that the birds of prey, the eagles, need no camouflage. In many of his paintings the eagles are flying confidently above the land as in Emus on the Plains. Quartzite Hills And to emphasise the essential balance of all things in the outback we can view Prospector with his eagle. Note: his eagle.
I think Hugh Schultz was the only Brushman to paint Spring in the outback which as travellers know is a wonderland of colour as the wild flowers burst into bloom. The first of these images is Red Hops and Daisies Springtime on the Barrier Ranges.

And this one titled simply Springtime. Outback Barrier Ranges.

And not to forget our glorious Wattle Time in Outback Hills. For overseas subscribers wattle is our national flower and it gives most of us a dreadful headache and hay fever if up to close! Looks great-don't go near!. Some of us also eat our national animals- the kangaroo and emu. So this little kangaroo is about to become tucker for someone!
I found only one of the paintings done by Hugh Schultz that portrays a harsher environment with the red earth, sparse vegetation and wild brumbies struggling to find food. Here we see this scene in Western Horse Paddock. Notice the windmill symbolising the importance of water for survival.

We are now leaving the Australian Outback. I'm hopping on my bike from where I parked it at Silverton just a little way from Broken Hill (as the crow flies) and riding to the airport to catch a plane to the Philippines.

Anne Newman

Oil Painter in realistic genre style, predominantly buildings and people. To continue the discussion contact Anne on or phone +61 407 516 522

Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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