John Firth-Smith Australian, b. 1943-


John Firth-Smith is a Sydney abstract painter. In the early 1960's he was highly awarded for producing many artworks of yachts on Sydney Harbour. However, by 1968 his style changed considerably, becoming more abstract and featuring large blocks of opaque colour.


Through the sixties, seventies and eighties, as a day job, he worked at a variety of different schools and institutions while managing to exhibit his work simultaneously. He endured a big break in 1974, when he was the subject of a twenty minute documentary on the ABC's Target programme. Because of this his works were soon acquired by a range of corporate collections.


Another significant work was made in 1981, when he completed an enormous commissioned project of 32 panels for the reception area of the ANZ bank in Collins Place, Melbourne.


He still remains a working artist and his works are represented in most major Australian public galleries.


1943 Born Melbourne, Australia

1945-52 Lived in New Zealand

1961 Studied National Art School, Sydney

1971 Visited Northern Europe and worked in New York, USA

1982 Visited USA, worked in New York

1983 Artist in Residence, Melbourne University

1985 Samoa

1989 Visited Europe lived and worked in New York. Travelling from New York to Maine,

return via Malaysia

1991 Tutor, International Art Workshop, Omaru, New Zealand

1992-93 Travels to West Africa, Paris and New York

2000 Travels to Easter Island, Mexico & Egypt

2003 Travels Fiji Islands

2006 Travels Northern Europe, London, Washington DC and New York

2007 Visited Paris – worked in Kerry, Ireland



2017 Full Circle, Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne

2017 Rural Rust, King Street Gallery, Sydney

2009 Paintings and Ceramics, John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne

2007 Selected Works, John Buckley Gallery, Melbourne

2006 The New York Works, A Survey, Embassy of Australia, Washington DC

2005 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

2003 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

2002 Lister Calder Gallery, Western Australia

2002 Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne

2001 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1999 John Firth-Smith: A Voyage that Never Ends (book launch and exhibition), Roslyn

OxIey9 Gallery, Sydney

1998 Roslyn OxIey9 Gallery, Sydney

1996 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1994 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1994 Robert Lindsay Gallery, Melbourne

1994 Greenaway Art Gallery, Adelaide

1993 Roslyn OxIey9 Gallery, Sydney

1992 Work on Paper: 1982-1992, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1990 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1990 New Lithographs, Australian Galleries, Melbourne

1988 Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

1987 Gallery 52, Perth

1987 In and On (lithographs), Blaxland Gallery, Sydney

1986 Powell St Gallery, Melbourne

1984 Inspiration and Reality, University of Melbourne

1983 Gallery 52, Perth, Western Australia

1983 Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane

1983 Bottle and Boat (lithographs), Roslyn OxIey9 Gallery, Sydney

1982 Works from New York, Axion Gallery, Melbourne

1982 Works from New York, Gallery A, Sydney

1981 Gallery A, Sydney

1981 Bonython Art Gallery, Adelaide

1979 Gallery A, Sydney

1979 Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne

1978 Bonython Art Gallery, Adelaide

1977 Gallery A, Sydney

1977 Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane

1976 Ray Hughes Gallery, Brisbane

1976 Realities Gallery, Melbourne

1975 Gallery A, Sydney

1973 Gallery A, Sydney

1972 Gallery A, Sydney

1970 Gallery A, Sydney

1969 Gallery A, Sydney and Melbourne

1966 Gallery A, Sydney and Melbourne



2015 Opening Exhibition, Nicholas Thompson Gallery, Melbourne

2007 Harbourlife, Manly Art Gallery & Museum

2006 Stolen Ritual, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

2005 Fireworks, Mackay Artspace touring exhibition, New South Wales, Queensland and

Victorian galleries

2005 Landscape Now, Solander Gallery, Canberra

2005 Hill End Scenes, People or Objects, Inaugural Exhibition, NPWS Gallery, Hill End

2004 Spectrum 2004, FONAS, National Art School, Sydney

2003 The Year in Art, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney

2003 Australian Masters, Solander Gallery, Canberra

2003 Beneath the Monsoon, Touring Regional Galleries, Queensland

2002 Fifty Years of Abstraction, Metro 5 Gallery, Melbourne

2002 Points of View, University of Technology Sydney Art Collection, UTS, Sydney

2002 The First 20 Years, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

2001 MCA Unpacked, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney

1999 Silver, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney

1999 Fabric of Labour, BulIe Gallery, Melbourne

1999 Three Generations, Solander Gallery, Canberra

1998 Escape Artists: Modernists in the Tropics, Cairns Regional Gallery & travelling, QLD,


1998 Axia Modern Art Opening Exhibition, Melbourne

1998 Australian Printmaking in the 1990’s: Artist printmakers 1990-95, Sherman

Galleries, Sydney

1997 Swingtime Eastcoast – Westcoast: Works from the I 960s-70s in the University of

WA Art Collection, Perth

1995 The Artists of Hill End, Art Gallery of New South Wales & travelling New South


1995 Asia and Oceania Influence, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney Contemporary

Australian Art, Kuala Lumpur

1995 Selection of Australian Works, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane

1994 Modern Australian Paintings, Charles Nodrum Gallery, Melbourne

1992 Australian Masters, Solander Gallery, Canberra Works on Paper, R.M.I.T.,


1992 Synthesis 6: Art & Architecture (with Lawrence Neild), Sydney 1988

1992 Australian Masters, Solander Gallery, Canberra

1987 Surface for Reflection, Art Gallery of New South Wales & travelling NSW

1987 Australian Painters & Sculptors, Saitama, Japan Museum of Contemporary Art,


1986 A Resistant Spirit, Roslyn OxIey9 Gallery, Sydney & Realities Gallery, Melbourne

1984 New Work, Powell Street Gallery

1983 Abstract Art in Australia, R.M.I.T. Gallery, Melbourne

1983 Five Sydney Painters, The Wrong Place, University of Tasmania Art Gallery, Hobart

1983 Twelve Australian Painters, Art Gallery of Western Australia

1983 Perspecta `83, Art Gallery of New South Wales

1983 Commonwealth Bank Contemporary Artists Exhibition, Sydney

1983 Prix de Monaco Exhibition, Monte Carlo

1982 Sydney Harbour Bridge 1932-1982, Art Gallery of New South Wales

1982 Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York – with Lesley Dumbrell Invited

1982 Structures, Newcastle Region Art Gallery

1982 Invited Inaugural Singleton Art Prize, Anzas 82, Macquarie University, NSW

1982 Darwin Art Gallery, works executed at Artists Camp, Kakadu National Park

Northern Territory

1982 Landscape Now’, Solander Gallery, Canberra ACT

1981 LIS `81, International Exhibition of Drawings, Lisbon Portugal, Survey 16 National

Gallery of Victoria

1981 Survey of the Seventies, Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria

1980 Summer Exhibition, Gallery A, Sydney

1979 LIS `79, International Exhibition of Drawings, Lisbon & Opporto, Portugal

1978 Contemporary Australian Art to Indonesia – Landscape and Image

1978 Water Works, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Alexander Mackie College of Advanced

Education, Sydney

1977 Group Show, Gallery A, Sydney

1977 Australian Colourists `77′, Western Australian Institute of Technology, Perth

1976 Included Artists Films, touring Europe and USA

1975 Joint exhibition with Tony Tuckson, Monash University, Melbourne

1975 Ten Australians, Gallery A, Sydney

1975 The Ocean, Expo `75, Okinawa, Japan

1974 Included, Artists Films, Art Gallery of New South Wales

1974 Return to Sender Exhibition, Florence, Italy

1974 Ten Australians, Paris Stuttgart, Venice, Milan, Florence Invited William Angliss Prize,


1973 Invited Biennale de Paris, France

1973 Contemporary Australian Painting and Sculpture, New Zealand The Biennale of

Sydney’ Opera House

1972 Included in Twenty Years of Australian Painting, London, UK Group,

1970 Invited First Leasing Prize, Melbourne

1970 Invited Georges Prize, Melbourne

1969 Japanese Forum Exhibition, Tokyo, Japan

1968 Group 2, Gallery A, Sydney and Melbourne

1967 New Generation Sydney, Gallery A, Melbourne

1966 Invited Helena Rubenstein Travelling Scholarship, Survey 6, Blaxland Gallery,


1966 Australian Young Contemporaries’ exhibition, Perth

1965 Survey 5, Blaxland Gallery, Sydney

1964 Survey 4, Blaxland Gallery, Sydney

1963 Joint Exhibition with Ian Van Wieringen, Hungry Horse Gallery, Sydney

1962 Joint exhibition with Ian Van Wieringen, Clune Galleries, Sydney



1978 Sydney Morning Herald Art Prize Civic Permanent Art Award, Canberra, Broken Hill

Art Prize

1977 Bathurst Art Prize Dalby Art Prize Capital Permanent Award, Geelong Art Gallery

1975 McCaughey Memorial Prize, Melbourne

1974 Townsville Art Prize (Purchase)

1972 Grafton Art Prize (Purchase) Georges Art Prize (Purchase)

1968 Young Contemporaries Royal Easter Show – Modern

1964 Young Contemporaries `B’ Section Mirror-Waratah Under 22 Years Contemporary

1963 Young Contemporaries `B’ Section

1962 Mirror-Waratah Under 22 Years Contemporary




ANZ Bank, Commission, Melbourne

Art Gallery of New South Wales

Art Gallery of South Australia

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Australian National Gallery, Canberra


BHP Collection, Melbourne

Bathurst Art Gallery, New South Wales

Broken Hill City Art Gallery, New South Wales

C.B.A. Bank, Sydney

Commonwealth Loan Collection

Curtin University Collection, Perth

Dalby Art Gallery, Queensland

Geelong Art Gallery, Victoria

Georges Limited, Melbourne

Grafton City Council, New South Wales

McGregor Collection, Toowoomba, Queensland

Mildura Arts Centre, Victoria

Monash University Collection, Melbourne

National Bank of Australia

National Gallery of Victoria

Newcastle Region Art Gallery

Philip Morris Collection, Melbourne

Power Gallery, University of Sydney

Qantas Airways Collection, Sydney

Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria

Sydney Morning Herald Collection

Tarrawarra Museum of Art, Victoria

TownsvilIe City Gallery, Queensland

University of Melbourne Collection

University of Western Australia

Visual Arts Board, Australia Council

Windsor Council, New South Wales

Artbank Collection

Private Collections in Australia, New Zealand, USA, Europe and Asia



2000 Macquarie Apartments, Sydney, designed by Renzo Piano, painting

1998 Deutsche Bank, Australia Square, Sydney, painting

1997 Landmark Hotel, Kings Cross, Sydney, painting

1993 Governor Phillip Tower, Sydney, designed by Denton Corker Marshall,

commissioned by DCM

1992 ANA Hotel foyer, Sydney

1988 State Bank, Sydney, painting

1987 New Parliament House Tapestry design, Canberra

1987 Convention Centre, Darling Harbour, Sydney, painting

1987 Hyatt Hotel Adelaide, painting

1987 Monash Hospital Art Foundation, painting

1981 Mural, 6 x 6 m, commissioned by l.M. Pei for ANZ Bank Head Office, Collins

1981 Gallery A, executed by Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

1980 National Capital Permanent Development Commission for Family Law Courts,




1973 “From Here to There” 16mm, Black & White


1980 “The Big Painter”, Film about ANZ Bank Commission, Melbourne, 30 mins

1980 “Ten Australians” (John Firth-Smith), Film by ABC Produced by Dale McRae, 30


1975 Target, A.B.C., John Firth-Smith, 20 mi