This site has been set up to promote awareness of the 20th Century Australian artist, William Edwin Pidgeon, aka “Wep”.
Bill Pidgeon’s career spanned from the late 1920s through to the 1970s. He started out in the newspaper industry and quickly forged a name in the local Sydney Press, known as “Wep”. In 1933 he helped create the dummy for The Australian Women’s Weekly with his friend and the magazine’s first editor, George Warnecke. Working for Consolidated Press he became well known throughout Australia for his political cartoons, comic strips, illustrations and his covers for The Australian Women’s Weekly, which are now collectables today. However, Bill’s true passion was his painting and in January 1949 he resigned from Consolidated Press to concentrate on painting and earn an income from commisioned portraits. He ultimately went on to win Australia’s most prestigious prize for portraiture, The Archibald Prize, on three occassions. Only 5 other artists have exceeded this record, which he shares with Clifton Pugh. However his earlier career always overshadowed the success of his painting with headlines such as “Cartoonist wins Archibald.”
In 1956 he was diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes and underwent a total of 6 operations on his eyes to remove cataracts and ultimately the eye lenses. By the 1970s he was deemd to be legally blind. The difficulties he faced with his eyesight were always kept very private for fear of losing valuable commissions.
Bill was never a commercial artist. He painted for the love of it and would rather give his works away than sell them. He never had a solo exhibition and only participated in a handful of group exhibitions. Consequently, not many works have changed hands and since his death; awareness of his name has slipped from the visibility of the modern art world.
Through this site and links to other sites I aim to promote a new awareness and appreciation of the works and variety of talent of one of Australia’s greatest 20th Century artists.