Kenneth Jack's Story

The Early Days


Kenneth Jack's interest and talent for the arts blossomed at an early age. Encouraged by his father (Harold Jack, also an artist) and always supplied as much paper as necessary Kenneth started to draw the world around him.

He first went to North Caulfield Primary School an then to Melbourne High School where his artistic skills were noticed and encouraged. At the same time he studied at the Melbourne Technical College (now RMIT) Kenneth finished at Melbourne High School and Melbourne Technical College completing a Drawing Teachers Primary Certificate and the Secondary Certificate.

Kj war sketching

The War intervened and in 1942 Kenneth joined the Royal Australian Air Force as a survey draftsman but still found time to study water colour under John Rowell at Melbourne Technical College. He met Harold Freedman at this time who was in charge of the RAAF publications and was able to publish some of Kenneth's work in the RAAF Log and Wings .

In 1944-45 Kenneth spent eighteen months in the Islands north of Australia from New Guinea to Labuan on the north of Borneo. Whilst there Kenneth found time to create a staggering five hundred artworks, drawings, watercolours and pen and wash and the only plein air oil paintings he has undertaken.

After the war under the returned soldiers Commonwealth Rehabilitation Training Scheme Kenneth gained the Art Teachers Certificate and the Trained Teachers Certificate as quickly as possible and went on to teach at Box Hill Boys High School and Upwey High School up to 1950.

Painting & Watercolours

Kenneth Jack's art began to focus on painting, the new acrylic painting medium had become available in the early 1960's. Constantly stimulated by subject matter in the out of the way places he began extended expeditions into the outback of Australia from the Flinders Ranges of South Australia to the Kimberley Ranges of Western Australia.

Under the encouragement of his friend and Sydney gallery representative, John Brackenreg, Kenneth became a full time artist.

Kenneth found the Australian landscape awe inspiring and in both his paintings and watercolours at the time he was able to express the powerful elements that impacted him, the space, depth, earthiness, structure, colour and rhythms of the inland.

In the 1970's to 1980's Kenneth focussed more on his watercolours which took on the scale and power of his large paintings. The most ambitious of these were the triptychs usually 1 metre high by 3.8 metres across!

Printmaking and Teaching


After the war under the returned soldiers Commonwealth Rehabilitation Training Scheme Kenneth gained the Art Teachers Certificate and the Trained Teachers Certificate as quickly as possible and went on to teach at Box Hill Boys High School and Upwey High School up to 1950.

Kenneth was already majoring in printmaking through this period in fact by 1945 was becoming known as an artist winning prizes in 1946 and 1947 for watercolour as well.

In 1952 Harold Freedman invited Kenneth and a group of other experienced artists to attend evening sessions at the Melbourne Technical College and utilize the printmaking facilities. This was to mark a revival in printmaking that had been in the doldrums since the 1930's.

In this incredibly hectic period Kenneth also married Betty Dyer, was teaching part time at Caulfield Institute of Technology and was an assistant Art inspector of Arts for Technical Schools.

Kenneth's artistic influences at the time were such artists as Russell Drysdale, Rupert Bunny, William Dobell, Douglas Dundas, Noel Counihan, Donald Friend and Arthur Streeton.

Overseas influences included Rembrandt and Turner (both favourites) John Piper, Graham Sutherland, John Cotman and Cezanne.


Kenneth Jack was awarded an MBE in 1982 and the AM in 1987 in recognition of his contribution to the arts.

He was a prodigious prize getter especially from the 1940's to the 1970's including the Crouch Watercolour prize, the Trustees Watercolour Prize The Wynne Competition, Tattersall's Art Award and the Camberwell Rotary Art Prize.

Kenneth was the only Australian born member of the Royal Watercolour Society in London .

Kenneth is represented in an A to Z of collections such as that of HM the Queen and HM the Queen Mother, the Adelaide City Council, The Australian National Gallery, Artbank, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, The Australian War Memorial, Broken Hill Art Gallery Chisholm Institute of Technology, Sydney's Mitchell Library, Hobart's State Library, Osaka's Otemon University, Queensland Art Gallery, London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and Warnambool Art Gallery to name a few.


Selected Solo Exhibitions


New South Wales

1966, 1972, 1992, 2004 Artarmon Galleries, Sydney

1993 Cooma Cottage, Yass


1957, 1965, 1968 Johnstone Galleries, Brisbane

1991 Queensland Landscapes, touring

1993 Waterfront Place, Brisbane

1994 Upstairs Gallery, Cairns

1997, 1999 Whitepatch Gallery, Bribie Is.

South Australia

1964 Society of Artists, Adelaide

1966 North Adelaide Galleries

1971 Barn Gallery, McLaren Vale

1985 Beehive Corner Gallery, Adelaide

1988, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999 Barry Newton Gallery, Adelaide

2002, 2005 Barry Newton Gallery, Adelaide


1964 Hobart

1969 Art Centre Hobart

1991 Freeman Gallery Hobart

1999 City of Hobart


1974, 1984, 1987, 1991, 1994, 1998 Australian Galleries, Melbourne

1979 Swan Hill

1980 Greythorn Galleries, Melbourne

1992, 1993 Bradshaw Fine Art, Highway Gallery, Mt Waverley

1993 Bradshaw Fine Art, Victorian Artists Society, Melbourne

1996 Editions Galleries, Melbourne

1997, 1998, Greythorn Galleries, Melbourne

2000, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, Greythorn Galleries, Melbourne

2005 Adam Galleries, Melbourne

2010 Adam Galleries, Melbourne

2011 Union Studio, Castlemaine

2012 Cotham Gallery 101 Kew

2013 Metropolis Gallery, Geelong

2013 Echuca Regional Library

2014 Koppamurra Gallery, Adelaide

Western Australia

1976 Lister Gallery, Perth


Isle of Man

2003 Art Gallery, Douglas


1975 Leicester Galleries

Retrospective Exhibitions

1970 Adelaide Festival

1978 Adelaide Festival

1988 Australian Galleries, Melbourne

1999 Melbourne High School

2010 Bundoora Homestead, Melbourne

2011 Castlemaine Art Gallery

2012 Bayside Gallery Brighton

9. Kenneth Jack port-filtered

Lake Eyre camp 70 s

KJ drawing Olgas 78 s