Susan Prichard - Elsie Blumann : Surf Riding in
Western Australia, 1937-1940. Prichard, Katherine Susan: Intimate
Ltd., London, 1937.
Collins/Angus & Robertson, Australia, 1990.
Quin, Sally: Bauhaus on the Swan - Elise Blumann, an emigre artist in
Western Australia, 1938-1948.
UWA Publishing, Crawley, Western Australia, 2015.
This entry was prepared following an email (with
the scans of the artwork reproduced below) by Mark Jeffery from
Dear Geoff, As a surfer and occasional viewer of your interesting
website and research I thought you may be interested in these
dynamic oil paintings of stand up surfing on surf skis. They come from a recently published book, Bauhaus On
The Swan, by Sally Quin, UWA Press 2015. I think I may have seen one of the paintings
once at the W.A. art gallery
This book also contains a brief
excerpt describing surfing at Perth from Katherine Suzanna
Pritchard's book Intimate
anyway all the best. (edited)
Katharine Susannah Prichard
(1883 –1969) was an Australian author and co-founding
member of the Communist Party of Australia.
The novel Intimate Strangers (1937) was a turning point
in her life.
The fire of a regenerating idea referred to in the
novel's revised conclusion was reflected in the author's life;
as pamphleteer and public speaker, Katharine Prichard fearlessly
and emotionally promoted the cause of peace and social justice. wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katharine_Susannah_Prichard
Elise Blumann (1897 –1990) was a German born artist who
achieved recognition as an Australian Expressionist painter.
In 1934, she fled Nazi Germany with her husband and
arrived at Fremantle, Western Australia in 1938.
In the following decade, Blumann produced a significant body of
painting, taking as her subject the Western Australian
landscape, her family and her new circle of friends. wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elise_Blumann
People were shoaling into the sea brandishing their surfboards.
Rachel turned over on her stomach to watch them.
Elodie watched them too.
Peg and Bill had started porpoise diving with other children in
Men and girls, farther out, were playing sea horses, girls
climbing to the men's shoulders, sitting astride their necks and
fighting each other until horses and riders fell riotously into
Chrissie and Captain Hartog had gone out to surf in the
breakers, Hartog on his long varnished board was shooting in
over the great waves: Chrissie balancing on rollers nearer the
Her slight figure in sand-coloured swimming suit as if she were
wearing no more than her skin.
She hung in the translucent green curve ol a wave like the
After each shoot, Hartog went crashing back through the surf to
deeper water from which the great combers were rising, while
Chrissie giggled and called to him gleefully.
Page 65 ... A wave more boisterous than the rest had caught Chrissie: sent
her squirming and sprawling on to the beach. Hartog helped her to her feet. They came up the beach laughing and exclaiming together.
Standing a little way off, she pretended to watch the surfers,
the maelstrom of men and boards where waves were breaking on the
sandbank; but from the corner of her eye the drama under Ray'
umbrella played itself out for her
The crowd left the beach with the end of the school holidays;
but the weather was still hot and a few families lingered in the
bungalows and cottages along the cliff.
For week-ends and Sundays the township was as busy as ever; the
surf and the sand as gaily patterned with swarms of bathers and
The Surf Club competitions were over for the season although the
life-savers mustered for duty during weekends.
Now and then, when there was a heavy swell, they had a busy
time, hauling unwary swimmers caught by the undertow.
Dirk took her part the rescue work.
Bauhaus on the
Swan - Elsie Blumann
Page 44.[Commentary by Sally Quin, 2015]
Modern Bodies on Perth beaches
The beach is used by Blumann as a setting for a series of
images of surfers produced from around 1939 (figs 41, 42,
These exuberant bodies are shown standing on longboards (sic, surf-skis),
paddles in hand, propelled towards the shore by the force of
There is a great sense of forward motion conveyed in these
Looming waves tower above the surfers' heads, cutting off
the horizon line and pushing the surfers extreme foreground,
almost beyond the bounds of the picture plane.
The momentum of these
surfers, their bodies taut in vigorous activity, is very
different from the relaxed pose of Summer nude.
Nevertheless, all these bodies are responding to the
transforr sensations of the beach, which Blumann shows to
be equally capable of eliciting a si blissful repose or a
Page 45 Figure 41. Surfer, 1940 oil on paper, 64. x 51.0 cm Private collection
Figure 42. Surf, 1939-46 oil and gouache on masonite, 74.0 x 65.0 cm State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western
Figure 43. Surfer,
1939-46 oil on canvas, 69.5 x 51.0 cm Private collection
In the late 1960s,
Blumann returned to some of her earlier themes:
drawing in brush and ink, pastel and watercolour
sheet 34.0 h x 51.2 w cm
Purchased by the NGA, 1978.