Norma Bull: A Gift

8 – 23 October | Gallery 2

Celebrating a recent gift to the Gallery of a small painting by the late Norma Bull, this exhibition brings an extensive holding of works by this little-known artist to Wangaratta.
The collection of paintings, prints and drawings are from the Bright Art Gallery. Norma Bull, often travelled to Bright for holidays in her later years, but her experience as an artist first took her to Britain during the Second World War where she became an unofficial war artist.
This exhibition includes some rare images of war time Britain, including a beautiful portrait of the wife of an airman known as ‘Madonna of the Blitz’. But there are also landscapes and images from happier times created during holidays in North East Victoria or at Anglsea on the coast.
Born in 1906, Norma Bull grew up in Melbourne and studied at the National Gallery School winning several awards including the Sir John Longstaff Scholarship in 1937 that allowed her to travel to London in April 1939 to widen her artistic experience.
When World War II was declared in September that year, Bull volunteered for civil service and then contacted the War Artists’ Advisory Committee offering her services as an artist. In February 1941 she was given a permit to work as an artist to record bomb damage in Britain and in 1947 Bull exhibited over 200 works at Australia House in London. The exhibition was attended by Queen Elisabeth 1 who bought six water colours for the Royal Collection.
Bull returned to Australia after spending nine years in Britain, and continued painting and teaching art. Twice a finalist in the Archibald Prize, her legacy continues through a biennial Art Prize, ‘The Norma Bull Portraiture Scholarship’ which is administered by The Victorian Artist’s Society.
The gift to Wangaratta, titled ‘Lifting Waves’, a small oil painting on tin depicting a windy day on the coast c1960, is one of many works that come to the civic collection through the generosity of artists or community members and is a work that will be treasured for many years to come.


image: Norma BULL, Lifting Waves, (detail) circa 1960s,  oil on metal.  RCOW Collection. Donated by Ass. Prof Leslie E Bolitho.