Wes WALTERS (1928-2014)
Ballarat Technical Art School
Wesley Walters was born at Mildura in 1928, his family moving to Ballarat when Wes was six months old. Walters was educated at Pleasant Street State School and Ballarat High School, where he excelled in sport and was a champion athlete. After a year studying architecture at Gordon Institute of Technology, Geelong, Walters returned to Ballarat where he studied art at the Ballarat School of Mines (SMB) during 1947 to 1948. At SMB Walters studied under Neville Bunning and Taylor Kelloch, and was awarded the Ballarat Ladies Art Association Scholarship in 1948.
Walters moved to Melbourne in 1948 and began his professional career in advertising at the art department of George Patterson Pty Ltd. At night he studied life drawing at the Victoria Artists' Society, and taught himself anatomy. In 1950 Walters began a highly successful free-lance career.
Walters was awarded the 1963 Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists' Association's Award of Distinctive Merit. In 1953 and 1956 he won the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery's Minnie Crouch Watercolour Prize. Full-time advertising work was replaced by painting during the 1970s, and many successful exhibitions followed. Wes Walters is known for his portraits, and he has painted numerous commissioned works including including Senator Neville Bonner, Sir Donald Bradman and Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. His 'Portrait of Phillip Adams' won the 1979 Archibald prize for portrait painting.
Although Walters had been painting in a non-figurative style since the early 1960s, he did not hold his first exhibition of abstract works until 2001. He was elected to the Illustrators Hall of Fame in 1993.
In 2009 the book by Walters: art of realism & abstraction by David Thomas was published.
The work of Wes Walters is found in many collections, including national and state galleries around Australia. A number of works by Wes Walters form part of the Federation University Art Collection see http://victoriancollections.net.au/organisations/federation-university-australia-art-collection?q=Wes+Walters
Wes Walters died on 19 August 2014.
This biography researched by David Thomas, February 2006, and updated by Clare Gervasoni in August 2014.
Image Caption (RHS): Wes Walters.
Image Caption (LHS): Wes Walters stands in front of an early non-figurative painting at his home, February 2005. (Photograph: Clare Gervasoni)