Brigid Cole-Adams | Printmaker, Painter and Sculptor 1938-2015

Judith Pugh writes about the life and work of printmaker, sculptor and painter Brigid Cole-Adams, who died in July this year. Judith reflects on Brigid’s life, her intelligence, the relationship between her work and her family, and the sense of humour that underlined her practice.

Brigid Cole-Adams will be remembered not only through her sophisticated, subtle, intelligent work, but that her commitment to family was part of and informed her work.  As Joan Acocella said of Willa Cather “she wasted no energy protesting against the forces that might have stood in her way, she simply opened the door and walked through it.”  The reference to an American writer is appropriate because Brigid trained in the United States, graduating from the Corcoran School of Art in Washington DC, in sculpture and painting in 1984.  She had taken drawing classes in Brisbane in the late 1950s with Jon Molvig and subsequently trained in etching at the Islington Studio and in screen printing at the Camden Institute London.

During her career the new wave of feminism defined the trajectory of many female artists. Brigid, whose marriage took her to the UK and America, used feminist theory, as she used ideas about colonialism, and culture, and indeed the sciences of paleontology and archaeology, as a prism to reflect on human activity.

Humour and irony were intrinsic to her work, it is focussed and spare, but the washes of transparent polymers in her later landscapes are beautiful not only as elements of the paintings, but in representing the colours and harmonies of the land.  The grids of ploughing, the suggested waterways, which she abstracted even further in her prints, remind the viewer that debates about abstraction and reality are irrelevant to the act of making art.

Brigid’s sculptures, never heavy metal, seem ephemeral, the more because they mainly appeared in installations. However each piece fulfils the criteria of form and texture and colour working to make meaning; and the visitor to her exhibitions found them satisfying from every point of view.

Brigid’s work was shown in regional galleries across Australia, and is represented in The National Gallery of Australia, The State Library of Victoria, the ACT Legislative Assembly, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery, University Teknologi MARA, Malaysia, the Camden Institute, London, and gives pleasure to many private collectors. She will be missed by family, by friends, and by the artists dealers and curators to whom she was mentor and partner.

Images courtesy Judith Pugh 

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