Gold Coast City Art Gallery is delighted to host an exhibition of selected photographs, by Gervaise Purcell, on tour from the Manly Art Gallery & Museum. Titled BEACHWEAR 1947 - 1962, the exhibition celebrates Australian photographer Gervaise Purcell's stunning fashion photography, featuring glamorous models in Jantzen swimsuits.
Gervaise Purcell passed away late last year. He had a long and interesting professional career spanning from 1936 until 1983. Born in 1919, his early interest in the medium was fostered when he attended North Sydney Boy's High taking photographs for the school magazine. His early professional mentor was John Lee who, fresh from Studio Sun in London, brought a new artistic approach, particularly to portraiture. At 16, Gervaise began his career in aerial photography, flying with Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in the famous Southern Cross.
In 1942, Gervaise began his career in the army working with Frank Hinder, Russell Roberts and Douglas Annand. His first solo exhibition, in 1943, raised funds for prisoners of war. For the next thirty years he concentrated on fashion and commercial work. He has exhibited in Australia, Brazil, Scandinavia, Belgium, France, Canada and England, winning many awards.
This exhibition features mostly Jantzen swimsuits photographed by Gervaise Purcell, for advertising and promotional purposes. Jantzen, along with Speedo, were the principal manufacturers of the swimming costumes worn by most of the population in the 1950s and 1960s. Printed on matt paper, the images were then hand coloured with artists' oil paints by Gervaise's long-time colourist Noela King who added her own artistic touch.
Regrettably no examples survive. The photographs in this exhibition were reprinted by Gervaise about seven years ago and this is the first time they have been publicly shown since commissioned.
Gervaise Purcell never lost interest in the beach or the more stylish individuals who enjoy going there. His photographs beautifully evoke this bygone era. The images evoke the modernity, hint of luxury and carefree leisure that we still associate with the endless holiday of our dreams, which is inherent to Australia's beach culture. Entry to this exhibition is free and Gervaise Purcell Photographs: Beachwear 1947 - 1962 continues until January 14.