Born Melbourne, Australia 1922
Ray Crooke is well known for his paintings of the people and landscapes of tropical Queensland and the Pacific, as well as sparse, dry landscapes of the Australian outback.
His experiences of Cape York Peninsula, Thursday Island, Borneo, Fiji, Tahiti and New Guinea inspired and influenced much of his work from the 1950s onwards. The daily activities and slow pace of island life, fecund foliage, swaying palms and shimmering oceans are common subjects for Crooke’s paintings. Waiting or Woman in a tropical interior (1982) is characteristic of Crooke’s style, featuring strong lines, simplified forms, blocks of colour and contrasting areas of light and shade.
In 1963 Crooke was included in the important exhibition Australian Painting Today at the Tate Gallery, London which also toured Australia. In 1969 he won the Archibald Prize, in 1993 he was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia and in 1996, an Honorary Doctorate from Griffith University, Brisbane. A national touring exhibition, North of Capricorn: The Art of Ray Crooke, was organised by the Perc Tucker Gallery, Townsville, in 1998, and a major retrospective of his work, Encounters with country: landscapes of Ray Crooke was developed by the Cairns Regional Gallery in 2006 which toured. His work is included in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries, Queensland University Art Museum, Newcastle Regional Gallery and the Vatican Collection of Modern Religious Art.