02 Aug 1918 – 22 Jan 2017. Turramurra has been fortunate to call artist Edna (Peg) Garran-Brown FRAS a long-time resident, inspiration and friend. Recently passing at age 98, Edna Garran-Brown (Thew), devoted her career to art: “Over 70 years (I was 18 years old when I started painting),” said Edna. In doing so she raised money for multiple charities, her main passion being to heighten public awareness of Australia’s Indigenous people; in her words, "To be a voice for the forgotten people."

Edna Garran-BrownTo be a voice for the forgotten people
Edna Garran-Brown and daughter, Joanne Hunter (Thew) at the Royal Art Society of NSW

Edna was born in Brisbane in 1918. Her mother was a concert performer standard pianist and composer; her father was a leading surgeon. She was an adoring wife to Raymond Farley Thew and her love of art continues to influence her own children and grandchildren, who will forever remember her as a wonderful, caring, loyal and loving mother, nana and great-nana – adored by all and who is immensely missed. Speaking of the great joy in being able to share art with those she loved most, “My daughter (artist Joanne Thew FRAS) and I, have worked extensively together – travelling Australia, as well as working in my home studio in Turramurra with the music up loud,” said Edna.

...an Archibald finalist 13 times
Edna Garran-Brown

Edna studied for six years under Dattilo Rubbo, an Italian-born artist and art teacher active in Australia from 1897, responsible for introducing a whole generation of Australian painters to modernism through his art school. “Anthony Dattilo Rubbo, was an artist himself. He began art classes in his Sydney Bligh Street studio, offering life drawing/painting. His school became the main rival to Julian Ashton’s Sydney Art School,” said Edna.

She had a great and inspirational passion to give to others. Her art works have supported multiple charities over the years, raising money for those in need. In her youth she was a model in the North Shore Cavalcade (an organisation with an estimated $1 million raised for charitable organisations) and she served in the Women’s Auxiliary National Service.

Edna Garran-Brown - Women's Auxiliary National Service (WANS)
Edna Garran-BrownThe great beauty of God’s creation in Australia
Edna Garran-Brown

Edna was a true Australian inspiration, devoted to capturing the beauty of our country and its people. Edna strove to advance recognition of Indigenous Australians and would often depict the Aboriginal people in her work – to be a voice for the forgotten people. She found immense beauty within Indigenous culture and believed in the importance of supporting people based on need and not race. Edna was inspired to paint the “Truth” and enlighten cultural understanding of the traditional owners and custodians of the land on which we stand.

Edna Garran-Brown

A highlight in her career was meeting Emily Kame Kngwarreye (or Emily Kam Ngwarray). Emily, born in 1910, was an Australian Aboriginal artist from the Utopia community in the Northern Territory. She is one of the most prominent and successful artists in the history of contemporary Indigenous Australian art.

Edna Garran-Brown

“My favourite location for inspiration is Central Australia – Kata Tjuta, Uluru and Alice Springs; how beautiful it is! The colours are magnificent,” said Edna. The construction of her work was based on rhythmic and artistic rendering, often with a series of smaller paintings, depicting various aspects of Australian scenes, integrated as part of a story within a larger, single painting. Vibrating colours and discords created interplay of movement. Edna’s distinctive style of painting is pure Australian (mostly in oils). She created beautiful paintings of landscapes, seascapes, wildlife, portraits, figurative compositions, etc. Opting to stay true to the style of her homeland, Edna avoided travelling overseas to prevent influences on her own art. In her words, her inspiration came from “The great beauty of God’s creation in Australia.”

Edna Garran-Brown

Edna’s awards, past exhibitions, Regional Gallery Permanent Collections and University Permanent Collections, listed below:

First Prizes for painting in oils, include:
Hunters Hill Municipal  Art Award – 1969
Hawkesbury District Agric. Ass. Art Award – 1967, 1968 & 1969
City of Parramatta Art Award Purchase Prize – 1973 & 1974
Macquarie Towns Purchase Prize (Hawkesbury) – 1980
Southern Cross Art Exhibition – 1982
Berimba – 1984
Southern Cross – 1985
Tumut – 1985
Young Cherry Festival – 1985 & 1986
Boggabri – 1985
Coffs Harbour Purchase Prize – 1985
Mudgee Apec – 1985
Condobolin – 1985
Portland Purchase Prize – 1985, 1986 & 1989
Quirindi – 1986
Grenfell Henry Lawson & Statuette – 1986
Kogarah – 1988
Scone – 1986
Scone  (Open Bicentennial Prize) – 1988
Kogarah – 1992

Paintings Displayed in Regional Galleries (Permanent Collections): Manly, Mosman, Campbelltown, Orange, Moree, Tamworth, Taree (Manning), Grafton, Albury, Port Macquarie, Bathurst, Lismore, Bega, Liverpool, Macquarie Towns (Windsor), Muswellbrook, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour, Cowra, Dubbo.

Paintings Displayed in Municipal Collections (Permanent Collections): Portland, Coffs Harbour, Macquarie Towns (Hawkesbury), Parramatta, Raymond Terrace. Also in private and institutional collections in Australia, England, and the USA.

Paintings Displayed in other Permanent Collections:
University of NSW Collection
University of Technology Sydney Collection
Sydney University Union Collection
Macquarie University Collection
University of Western Sydney Collection
Australian Catholic University Collection
University of Newcastle collection
Southern Cross University Collection
Royal Art Society of NSW Collection

Garran-Brown received over 100 Art Awards for painting in oils in NSW, including:
Award at the Portia Geach Portrait Prize – 1983
Awards at the Royal Easter Show, Sydney – 1983, 1985, 1986, 1988 & 1994
1st Prize, Royal Easter Show, Sydney – 1991

– ‘Artists and Galleries of Australia’ by Max Germaine
– ‘Who’s Who in Asia and the Pacific Nations’
– ‘The World Who’s Who of Women’
– ‘Australian Art Auction Records’ Vol 7, ’89-’91 by E Craig (Australian & International Auctioneers)
– ‘A Dictionary of Women Artists of Australia’ by Max Germaine

3 – Man show    Royal Art Society of NSW – 1980
2 – Man show    Royal Art Society of NSW – 1982
2 – Man show    Woollahra Galleries – 1984
2 – Man show    Uralla Repat. Hospital, Concord – 1984
3 – Man show    Royal Art Society of NSW – 1987
2 – Man show    Garrison Gallery, Windsor – 1991
2 – Man show    Royal Art Society of NSW (twice) – 1992
2 – Man show    Roseville Pictureframe Makers Gallery – 1993
3 – Man show    Royal Art Society of NSW – 1994

Edna Garran-Brown - North Shore Cavalcade
Edna Garran-Brown