Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial licensed copyright

ID number ART28307
Title Study for `Airport at night' (Rose Bay)
Collection Art
Object type Drawing
Maker Drysdale, Russell (Artist)
Places made
  • Australia: New South Wales, Sydney
  • Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Rose Bay
Date made 1944
Medium watercolour, pen and ink on paper
Measurement overall: 27.7 x 37.5 cm


Study for the later work on paper "Airport at night" in Rose Bay, New South Wales. Depicts a nighttime scene of the people at work at an airport. Flood lights pours out of the hangar illuminating the aircrafts and figures.

During the war, Rose Bay Flying Boat Base was used as an international airport for defence purposes by the RAAF. Operating a fleet of seaplanes, the base became the target of a failed Japanese submarine attack in 1942. The golden age of the flying boat in Australian aviation history was brief and lasted little more than twelve years.

This study "Airport at night" was used to inform the production of two works on paper of the Rose Bay airport base. They became his largest, most highly coloured and complex drawings ever completed, and represent a highlight in his artistic career. Of particular interest to Drysdale was the affect the war had on urban environments and night-time scenery. Experimenting with new materials in order to capture the unfamiliar atmosphere, his liberal use of black ink and stridently applied coloured washes creates a scene replete with restlessness and eerie tension.