Charles George Bannon (1919-1993)
Costume and scenery designs 1950 -1978
Charles Bannon was born in Edinburgh in 1919 and came to Australia in 1927 with his parents and a brother, to join another brother who had already emigrated. They settled in Bendigo, Victoria where, during his schooldays, he had private art lessons, followed by night classes at the Mechanics Institute and further classes at the School of Mines and the Bendigo Art Gallery.
While in his teens he was recruited into the Bendigo Light Horse and then joined the Darwin Mobile Force in 1937. During the Second World War he served as a bombadier with the 2/3/ Field Regiment, and saw active service in Libya, Syria and Lebanon. During the war Bannon married his first wife, Joyce, and produced four sons. The eldest, John, went on to become Premier of South Australia from 1982 to 1992.
The War drove Bannon to pursue his dream of becoming an artist and, with the support of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Scheme, he studied at the Melbourne Technical College (now Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) and the National Gallery School, and completed a Teacher’s Certificate and an Art Teacher’s Certificate. Bannon then took a position as art master at Adelaide’s Collegiate School of St Peter, where he remained until 1963. He pioneered a number of advances in art education including a children’s television program on art.
Bannon continued to paint while at St Peter’s, and experimented with a variety of print media. He held at least 12 one man shows and participated in many others, winning the Blake Prize for Religious Art in 1954. He also produced many stage sets, costume designs and theatrical posters for local theatre groups such as the Adelaide Repertory Theatre and the University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, as well as designs for ecclesiastical silver, stained glass and murals. He was one of the first presidents of Adelaide’s Contemporary Art Society and in the early 1950s encouraged many European migrants to join the organisation.
In 1964 he was appointed as art education director for the Commonwealth government in the Northern Territory, and was the first art advisor to Aboriginal special schools. He spent two years travelling through the upper north of Australia studying Aboriginal art, also serving as project Officer in South Australia to the Aboriginal Resources Branch.
Bannon moved to Sydney in 1966 where he tutored in graphic communication at the University of New South Wales, as well as teaching at several small private art schools. In 1968, Charles Bannon established the Paddington Print Studio, and his pioneering led to the work of leading artists such as Blackman, Boyd, Dickerson, Connor, Milgate, Crooke, Juniper and Lymburner becoming affordable and generally available, producing prints through the ‘serigraphy’ or screenprinting process. Bannon was admired for his paintings but his real strength lay in printmaking and many artists sought his expertise. Writing in 1992 about what would be Charles’s final print exhibition, The Advertiser’s visual arts critic, Adam Dutkiewicz, said that “Bannon had no peer in this aspect of his work.”
Following the demise of the Paddington Print Studio in the early 1970s, he returned to Adelaide with his second wife, Anne, and lectured part-time in art at the Salisbury College of Advanced Education. He also established a small print-making studio at the rear of his Prospect home from which he produced a second series of Australian artists’ prints.
Charles Bannon died in 1993 on the Willochra Plain in the Flinders Ranges of South Australia.
These designs were donated by the Bannon family to the University of Adelaide Library in August 2017.
Othello’ Tivoli Theatre (director Colin Ballantyne)
6 scenery designs numbered on verso 1-6
All 21x32 cm in mounts 35x47 cm.
5 costume designs
All 80x54 cm in mounts 99x68 cm.
- 47 Theramenes costume 1978
- 49 Theseus costume 1978
- 50 Panope costume 1978
- 51 Aricia costume 1978
- 52 Phaedra costume 1978
‘Faust’ Adelaide Repertory Theatre, 1956?
8 scenery designs
Most 28x34 cm, on mount 39x47 cm.
Mixed media, some glazed
- 21 Act 5 Scene 2, prison scene
- 22 Act 4 Scene 1, a city street
- 23 Act 3, Marguerite’s garden
- 24 Backcloth, 1956, 43x33 cm. on mount 37x56 cm.
- 25 Act 1, Faust’s study
- 26 Act 2, an open square
- 27 Act 4 Scene 1, Church
- unnumbered backcloth design, 25x32 cm. watercolour and ink
Unidentified costume design
[Two women in Arab costume with staffs]
Alison’s House. Author: Susan Glaspell.
“Allison’s House Acts 1-2”
2 sketches, 20x35 cm and 21x33 cm, mounted on board 51x35 cm
Ink and watercolour
"La meneuse de tortues d'or..."
[from Jacques Ibert. Histoires (Stories), pieces (10) for piano. La meneuse de tortues d'or..." = The leader of the golden tortoises]
40x30 cm on mount 56x40 cm.
Designs for University of Adelaide Theatre Guild
‘The Glass Menagerie’, The Hut, 1950 (director Thelma Baulderstone)
3 photographs of sets
12-14x15-21 cm on mount 56x46 cm.
‘Alexander and Campaspe’, The Hut, 1950 (directors Brian Elliott and Enid Lowes)
- Scenery design, watercolour and ink, 21x32 cm. on mount 56x45 cm, with scene plan 19x30 cm, numbered 13
- Photograph of actress on set, 25x20 cm on mount 29x24 cm
‘House of Bernarda Alba’, The Hut, 1951 (director Frank Bailey)
Scenery design, 22x36 cm, with lift-up flap, on mount 56x46 cm, with scene plan 20x30 cm.
‘The Miser’, The Hut, 1950 (Directors Jonathon Davies and Iris Hart)
Photograph of set
14x24 cm. on mount 23x29 cm,
Costume design (unknown play – possibly ‘Tartuffe’ University of Adelaide Theatre Guild, 1968)
[Male figure in tattered suit with hat]
5 October 2017