Mid-career (1976–1986)

The mid-1970’s saw further development in White’s painting compositions.  Inspired by fugal patterns in music, she developed a unique narrative style where the subject is repeated from different viewpoints.  At this time White also changed from painting on primed composition board (Masonite) to wood panel (plywood).  The earliest example, a collage painting Eric's Cafe - Resale Royalty Rights, was awarded the 1975 Macquarie University John Gero Prize, judged by Lloyd Rees.  Examples of this fugal style are: Evening, factory valley, At home, and The cup of tea, which was selected for the 1977 Sulman Exhibition at the Art Gallery of NSW.  In Autobiography, life-size figures in colour represent the present while her past is painted in sepia in the background as a pathway of small figures.  She was influenced by Japanese art, especially the woodblock prints of Hokusai.  She painted a number of watercolour landscapes on crumpled Japanese paper, for example Cattai Ridge, and Crackenback River, after seeing this textural technique in an exhibition of contemporary Japanese prints.

Taking up music studies again after being without a piano for a decade, White obtained the Associate (Practical) in Pianoforte, Trinity College London in 1975.  She accompanied her children on their string instruments and drew and painted them practising: Paul playing cello, Brahms String Sextet No. 1.  White continued to exhibit in local and national shows, where she received many awards. 

White acquired a Dickerson combination printing press in 1977 along with other lithographic equipment, which enabled her to gradually master the technique of hand-printing lithographs in multiple colours: The gardener's dream: no. 2.  She held a solo exhibition of lithographs at Blackfriars Gallery, Sydney in 1978 and also showed lithographs in a group exhibition at Stadia Graphics.

From 1977 to 1980 White held a continuous exhibition at the Seymour Centre (University of Sydney) where she exhibited acrylic paintings, watercolours, and prints: Yo-yoing, The front veranda, Two.  The exhibition was changed periodically as works sold: Native Pines, Warrumba Range, central NSW, and as she produced new work.

White engrossed herself in the art collections of Europe when the family lived in Germany in 1979.  She saw the original works by some of her favourite artists, such as Grünewald, Piero della Francesca, Bruegel the Elder, Riemenschneider and Rodin.  The following year she returned to hold a solo exhibition in Munich of paintings, prints, and drawings.  She visited Berlin to see the Pergamon, Dahlem, and Käthe Kollwitz museums.  On returning to Sydney she held an exhibition of watercolours at the Seymour Centre: People of Sydney, Berlin & Munich.

Since 1980 White’s prints have been selected to represent Australia in international exhibitions, biennales, and triennales.  Ironically the same prints were consistently rejected in Australia.  Over the years she has participated in more than 60 exhibitions overseas, including the Ljubljana Graphic Biennales in 1981 (The empty chair), 1983 (Chess), 1985 (The Ghost of Kabbarli, Daisy Bates), 1987 (The front veranda: Chernobyl meltdown) and 1991 (Cry Freedom – Apartheid).  Three of her prints were accepted in the Intergrafik ’84 Triennale in Berlin.  Her lithograph Chess was accepted in the International Triennial Against War - Majdanek 85 and is in the Lublin Museum Collection.  In 1984 White acquired a 19th century Marinoni cast-iron press for stone lithography: The story and the multi-coloured print To Let - The diabetic evicted from The Rocks.

White took part in several exhibitions in the 1982 NSW Women and Arts Festival.  She co-ordinated a group exhibition Eight Women Artists in the Glebe Town Hall, where she exhibited paintings and prints, reviewed in The Australian and The Sydney Morning Herald.  Her painting Self-portrait with children was selected for the main Festival exhibition From the Inside Out, and she presented her lithographs in Open Studio.  In 1983 she held a solo exhibition of paintings and prints at the Sydney Goethe Institute.

White began teaching in 1982 when she set up weekly drawing classes at The Glebe Town Hall, then at the Annandale Neighbourhood Centre.  She continued to teach part-time at the Strathfield Evening College (1987–1990) and anatomy drawing from 2000 (see Mature years).

Taking up woodcarving again, White carved a rose for the soundboard of the harpsichord that her musician son assembled in 1983: Blowflies, rose in harpsichord soundboard.  She decorated the instrument with paintings: a landscape on the lid with her son climbing a blue-gum, birds in the keywell, and gum blossom on the soundboard.  To hone her woodcarving skills, she enrolled in Michael Gill's workshops in 1985: Companion for Brancusi's 'Young Man'

In 1986 White held a solo exhibition at Balmain Art Gallery of paintings, drawings, prints and woodcarvings: Beatrice, the paper-seller of the White Bay Intersection, Palms by Johnstons Creek, Rozelle Bay, The fisherman's dream. The National Gallery of Australia began to acquire White’s prints in 1986 when it purchased three: Thelma of Wilcannia, Casualty: Children's hospital 3 am, Thieves at the market; the gallery now holds 27 of her works in its collection.


» Childhood and student years (1941–1961)
» Early career (1962–1975)
» Mid-career (1976–1986)
» Mature years (1987–present)