Charles George Bannon was born in Edinburgh as the Great War finished. His family was never well-off, and not helped by the economic disaster of the Great Depression, when his father, a well-qualified Railway Signalman, was unable to get any steady work. His life before 1939 was not auspicious and gave no hint that he was eventually to become a successful artist, craftsman, printmaker and teacher.

Times in Scotland were difficult and emigration offered opportunities. The family arrived in Bendigo, Australia in 1927 when Charles was eight years old. Work as a message boy and later a shoe salesman, with evening art classes at the Mechanics Institute Bendigo, was followed by successful selection in the elite Darwin Mobile Force in 1938. He enlisted as soon as war was declared, and became a gunner in the 2/3 Field Regiment (which was raised in SA and the Territory). He served in the Desert War and Palestine, was repatriated to Australia where he remained, running POW camps and other duties. He rose from the rank of Private to Sergeant and Warrant Officer. After the war, the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Scheme offered an open choice for a career course. He was able to realise his dream, and chose Fine Art, studying at the Melbourne Technical College, the National Gallery School gaining a Teacher’s Certificate and Art Teacher’s Certificate. He became Art Master at St Peters College Adelaide in 1947, and remained there until 1963.

Life in the army had given Bannon cause to re-evaluate faith and Christianity. Several significant paintings on the subject led to his eventual winning of the Blake Prize for religious art in 1954 with Judas Iscariot. He also painted landscapes in oil and gouache with the Australian outback a recurring theme. He had sell-out shows in Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney during the 1950s. He also developed a very high reputation as a stage set designer, working with the Theatre Guild and other companies, as well as at the school.

He was a prominent member of the Adelaide contemporary art scene, serving as President of the Contemporary Arts Society in its early years. During this time he and his wife Joyce raised and nurtured four sons. The tragic loss of his third son Nicholas in Wilpena Pound in January 1959 changed his life and that of his family. His first marriage was dissolved and following his resignation from the school in 1963 he and his second wife Anne moved to Darwin. There he pioneered art curriculum and art teaching, particularly focussing on remote settlements and aboriginal students. Anne and he moved next to Sydney, where they established the Paddington Print Studio, with Charles as Master Printmaker. He worked with many prominent artists such as Blackman, Olsen, Eric Smith and many others to realise limited editions of quality serigraph prints. He also produced work of his own. The business was a huge artistic but not a financial success and was eventually wound up, and he returned to Adelaide to teach and concentrate on his own work, based in his last years on the Willochra Plain.


The collection of serigraphs, photographs and gouache sketches was Charles Bannon’s personal archive of his time at Paddington Print studio and later. As well as numbered originals, it includes artist’s proofs, and work in progress which gives an insight into the collaboration between the artist of the work and the printmaker who gives it realisation. The technique was complex and required huge skill involving many screens to make the final image and close collaboration. This personal collection includes hundreds of items of differing quality and value. It has been lovingly preserved by his widow Anne, from Charles’s death in 1993 until now. The full catalogue contains all that were thought of continuing value. The selection of some 50 items on display represents the best examples and will be auctioned. In the collaborative works the printmakers input is evident. His own work shows his great love and respect for the Australian landscape, its powerful shapes and colours, its creatures and its ancient stories all of which have inspired them.

Theodore Bruce is conducting a timed online auction of the items held in the Charles Bannon Studio Collection.

The auction will run from Friday 1st April until 6.00 PM on Monday 11th April.

Please see the link below to view the illustrated catalogue and details of the auction.

Enquiries Kate Oster, [email protected].