Old Man Loading Ute
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Tam Ambrose, 1976
The colourful career of impressionist artist Tam Ambrose began in 1950. Tam began formal training at the age of 12 with noted Western Australian water colourist Leach Barker in his home town of Albany. One of his first collectors, Lady Gardiner, then wife of the Governor was impressed with a painting he had done of an old coat and paid him 5 pounds for the piece and so began his career in the art world.
An avid student of art, Ambrose won a scholarship to the London Slade School of Arts in the late 1950s which was duly postponed as the lure of travel proved too much for this reckless Australian who left for India, Nepal and Istanbul.
After a short stint in the national service Ambrose returned to England and was accepted into the Chelsea School of Fine Arts where he studied as an impressionist. At the completion of his studies, Ambrose ousted his English peers and critics by winning the prestigious Shell International Art Prize in 1963. Originally labeled a crude colonial from the antipodes, Ambrose recalls how the 'Poms' had thought it bizarre that an Australian could win this prize. Although he was denied entrance to the Art Club in Pall Mall, Ambrose had made his mark in the art world and was happy to return to Australia for further adventures.
Not content with the congestions of city life, Ambrose traveled to the north west to explore the country and capture its beauty in his developing, unique style. Tam has lived in many major centres in the north west, including Mount Magnet, Port Hedland, Broome and Fitzroy Crossing. Painting with oils on canvas or in water colours on paper, clothed only by a modest sarong to survive the heat, Ambrose produced countless paintings, pieces which have attracted the eye of Australian and international clientele.
One Texan buyer, while in the Murchison where Tam had lived, bought a car load of his art work and resold a piece for $87,000 to pop star Madonna.
In recent times his landscapes have been influenced by Rottnest Island, Cottesloe beach and Fremantle although he is still renowned for his majestic views of the outback.
His paintings have been linked to those of Sir Russell Drysdale.