In 1935, Sydney Ure Smith commissioned Douglas Annand to design a cover for the April issue of his magazine The Home. It was the premier women’s magazine published in Australia between the wars, when the growing consumer market focused on women in an increasingly fashion-conscious society. Annand played a significant role at this time, joining Adrian Feint, Thea Proctor and Hera Roberts in producing cover designs in a period when commercial art replaced illustration as a mode of employment for artists. These artists transformed the image of Australian women, from maternal figures to sophisticated symbols of modern Australian society.
This cover portrays in profile the head of an elegant, fashion-conscious young woman, perhaps an allusion to the line drawings of Picasso and Toulouse-Lautrec. Her image is represented in outline only, in wire on a background of red velvet. An elegant hat, adorned with a large feather, partly hides her hair and face. Annand portrayed her hair as thins curls of wire and, ever the purist, signed his name in the same medium. He used unexpected textural contrasts to advantage, with the flowing linear outline in wire – used completely out of context – indicating the strength of this thoroughly modern woman. The plush red velvet, with its implication of refinement, suggests dignity and grace.
The female form Annand chose for his first cover of The Home was simple and sophisticated and typified the restraint of 1930s fashion. For this, and the majority of his cover designs, Annand continued his experiments with collage. He created images which reproduced perfectly the shapes and textures of the carefully chosen materials.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2010
From: Anne Gray (ed), Australian art in the National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2002