Janet Dawson was born in 1935 and studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne from 1952 until 1956. She was awarded the NGV Travelling Scholarship to London, where she studied at the Slade School and won a lithography prize which enabled her to travel to Italy, where she lived and worked in Anticoli Corrada, a mountain village near Rome. She then travelled to Paris where she worked at the Atelier Patris.
This exposure to modern art in London and Paris, such as Rothko, Motherwell, Debuffet and Miro, influenced her move to abstract art.
In 1960 Dawson returned to Australia and worked and exhibited at Gallery A in Melbourne, where she ran the print shop and assisted Fred Williams, John Brack, John Olsen and Roger Kemp, amongst others, in their first encounters with lithography.
The September 1963 edition of Meanjin, devoted to French writing, featured her work on its cover and as illustrations throughout.
One of the pioneers of colour field painting, (emerging from Abstract Expressionism, colour field painting uses colour itself as the subject, creating a flat field of colour that often seems to extend beyond the canvas) she was one of only three women artists included in The Field exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1968. She was also involved in furniture and theatre set design.
Dawson won the Archibald Prize in 1973 with a portrait of her husband, Michael Boddy. She moved to Binalong in rural New South Wales in 1974 and became focused on the landscape and animals, which changed her art practice to more realistic work.
Volume XXII Number 3 1963