Jude Rae on E Phillips Fox

Part of a series of new perspectives on portraiture commissioned for Archie Plus

E Phillips Fox

Art students

1895
oil on canvas
Purchased 1943

Pinafores aside, this could be my first experience of the life room at art school. The air of quiet concentration and shared focus here in this small forest of easels is very familiar to me. The quiet of the life class is different from that of a library. The focus of our attention is shared, yet the endeavour – of making one’s own vision visible – is absolutely unique. Working in ‘iso’ in 2020, I have missed the wordless collective communion of the serious life class. The break, ostensibly for the model, was always a chance to look and learn from others’ work. It was also an opportunity for me to ‘reset’ and see my own work with a fresh eye. This is possibly the most important lesson I learned from life class. But, of course, the importance of ‘downing tools’ can only be appreciated in the context of picking them up again!

Jude Rae is a Sydney-based painter with an interest in the ill-seen and the overlooked

View this work and more as part of the Gallery’s collection online