Marjorie Gwynne studied art with Hayley Lever and later became a pupil of Archibald Collins. Together with other students of Collins, she was involved in producing The High Light, the first art magazine in Australia to have coloured illustrations. Gwynne was active on the Council and selection committees of the Royal South Australian Society of Arts for many years.
Gwynne's work shows a bold, simple style. In her oil paintings she created harmonious compositions with vibrant use of colours unexpected in her quiet nature. One of South Australia's finest women artists, she is little known outside her home State.
MRS. DAISY BATES, 1940, is the preliminary watercolour for the oil painting MRS. DAISY BATES, OBE, held by the Art Gallery of South Australia. The artist first made a charcoal sketch and then painted the watercolour while Daisy Bates was staying at the Queen Adelaide Club.
Gwynne has caught the spirit of the elegant diminutive figure wearing her nineteenth-century high collar, veiled hat, and the inevitable gloves. Colours blend together in this watercolour to form a setting in which the strong personality of the sitter is predominant. The wording "Mrs. Daisy Bates destroys 40 years correspondence" indicates that this hyperactive little person needed to be doing something even when sitting for her portrait!
The background map of Australia signifies that this is not just another dainty Edwardian society lady, but "Kabbarli" (grand. mother), the guardian, protector and friend of the Aboriginal people. Choosing the Aboriginal way of life, Daisy Bates spent decades in their settlements around the Nullarbor Plain.
Ursula Hayward, a personal friend of Daisy Bates, purchased this work at its first showing at John Martin's Gallery in 1945.