Born Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia 1928, died Sydney 1998
Shay Docking studied at the Swinburne Technical College (1947–50), and the National Gallery School in Melbourne (1954–55) under Alan Sumner. A dedicated landscape painter, Docking drew her main inspiration from the Western District of Victoria where she had grown up, and which formed her view of nature as both savage and beautiful. Docking had a deeply religious upbringing, but Ursula Prunster has suggested that she turned away from ‘Calvinist Puritanism’ and instead: ‘Her instinct turned to nature’s great manifestations, and she found a powerful sense of the transcendent spirit in these earth monuments, and in nature’s fertility. So her strong pull towards religion had found direction in a response to the “wild pantheism of nature” and as time passed she channelled into her painting the ideas and feelings which arose intuitively with this spiritual charge.’1
Port Fairy image is an early work and displays Docking’s interest in cubism at this time; the simplified forms of the houses and harbour creating an overall pattern of strong colour and tonal contrasts. This work was exhibited in the Exhibition of Paintings by Leading Victorian and Interstate Artists, Australian Galleries, Melbourne (1957).
Throughout her career Docking exhibited regularly, holding more than forty solo exhibitions. Docking is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, most state and many regional galleries, as well as public galleries in New Zealand.
1 Ursula Prunster, Shay Docking, the Landscape as Metaphor, AH & AW Reed Pty Ltd, New South Wales, 1983, p. 127.