Ray Austin Crooke was an Australian artist known for his landscapes. He won the Archibald Prize in 1969 with a portrait of George Johnston. His paintings portrayed Australia’s far northerly regions and Pacific islands. His opalescent, slightly melancholic outreaches where homespun rituals such as flower picking and promenading are replenishing enough to engross individual citizens or whole townships of people. In the classic compositions of Crooke, sitting around is a time consuming, indeed constructive activity undertaken with gravity. He is admired for his ability to catch the qualities of the light so characteristic of the tropics.
Born in Melbourne in 1922, Crooke took up art studies at the Swinburne Technical College in 1937. In 1939, he joined the Army, drawing when able during service across northern Australia, Borneo and islands north of Australia. These locations left a lasting impression on Crooke and would become a major inspiration for his art.
After the war, Crooke returned to Melbourne and completed his training in drawing and etching at Swinburne Technical College in 1948. He worked at various occupations, including two years on Thursday Island working for the Diocese of Carpentaria. Inspired by Gauguin, Crooke spent most of the post-war years painting among the islands off North Queensland. Based in Cairns, Crooke travelled extensively, developing an understanding of the people of Torres Strait, Fiji, and neighbouring Pacific Islands, as well as inland Queensland and northern Western Australia.
1922 – 2015