Biography

Birth date: 1906
Birth place: Australia: Western Australia, Perth
Death date: 16 April 1985
Conflict: Second World War, 1939-1945

Herbert McClintock was born in Perth, Western Australia, in 1906. He studied at the National Gallery of Victoria School from 1925 to 1927 and again in 1930. While a student he earned a living as a signwriter and advertising artist. During the depression of the 1930s he joined the Communist Party of Australia and did many political cartoons for the party press. He continued to contribute cartoons to trade union and communist papers throughout his life.

McClintock's early work could be described as "constructivist", but by the mid-1930s he was trying to work in a surrealist style, exhibiting under the pseudonym "Max Ebert". At the same time he took an interest (dictated by his political allegiance) in social realism and eventually chose to work only in this style and to exhibit under his own name.

During the Second World War McClintock was rejected for military service on medical grounds and was instead employed by the Allied Works Council in Sydney. He first worked in an iron foundry, then as a camouflage artist and in July 1943 was appointed an official war artist to cover the activities of the Civil Construction Corps.

This appointment particularly suited both McClintock's disposition and his talents as a social realist. He produced many works showing the construction of the giant graving dock at Sydney and of labourers in rural areas.

McClintock worked rapidly on the spot, making pen, brush and ink sketches and drawings of the action. Later he worked up more complete compositions in his studio in Sydney, often using thick gouache and layers of varnish add highlights and surface texture. He considered many of these paintings as studies for large-scale murals. They have a rhythmic repetition of colour and form that suggests the cooperation among the workers needed to complete their sometimes-daunting tasks.

Sections of buoyancy tanks and floating caissons, Sydney Graving Dock shows labourers dwarfed by the monumental engineering feats on which they are engaged. While the man-made seems to reduce the men to almost ant-like insignificance, McClintock has also made a statement about the importance of team labour and the grandeur of human enterprise.

McClintock died in 1985.

Rolls and Awards

Collection Items

Art

Sydney graving dock

In this work the focus is placed on the immensity of the structure being built. The scale of the enterprise is emphasised by the towering walls, gantry cranes and a section of pipe being hoisted high above the workers. Herbert McClintock places the viewer in the centre of the building site, with...

ART30253

Sections of buoyancy tank and floating caissons, Sydney graving dock

Built in the early 1940s to accommodate capital ships, the Captain Cook Graving Dock at Garden Island in Sydney was one of the greatest civil engineering projects in Australia up to that time. Seen as a tremendous strategic manoeuvre for the fledgling nation, it would enable naval operations to be...

ART30254

Concrete workers, Sydney graving dock

Scene at a graving dock in Sydney. There are two workers in the foreground guiding the lifting of a cement block. Other workers perform tasks such as concrete drilling and the two levels above. McClintock utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the...

ART30255

Cement workers, Sydney graving dock

Four cement workers at Sydney graving dock carrying out heavy manual work working using equipment such as shovels. Cranes and ladders and building structures fill the background. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken....

ART30256

Linemen erecting power pole in excavation, Sydney graving dock

Scene of four men working to erect power lines at Sydney Graving. In the background below a group of work around a crane. The four men in the foreground are exerting a large amount of energy though pulling on a thick rope. The artist utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's...

ART30257

Main concrete mixing plant, Sydney graving dock

Foreground depicts two men shoveling cement at Sydney Graving Dock. The main concrete mixing plant occupies the background. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist also utilises social realism as a means to...

ART30258

Civil Construction Corps tradesmen, Herne Bay

Tradesmen from the Civil Construction Corps working in Herne Bay in Sydney during the Second World War.

ART30259

Erecting poles for aeroplane hideouts, Pokolbin Aerodrome

Soldiers erecting poles in order to make aeroplane hideouts at the Polkolbin Aerodome.

ART30260

Timber clearing, Fish River dam

Workers clearing timber, including a man in the foreground chopping at a tree trunk with an axe. Two workers appear beside him while several men perform the same tasks in the background. McClintock utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the co-operation...

ART30261

Canteen scene, Oberon, CCC camp

Produced in the style of social realism, McClintock depicts a canteen in Oberon, New South Wales. The scene shows two men leaning on a counter, while two other men stand and sit respectively, reading a small book or pamphlet.

ART30262

Mealtime, Oberon CCC camp

Six men lining up outside the mess hall at Oberon CCC camp. McClintock utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the co-operation between workers.

ART30264

CCC camp, Fish River

Men working outdoors at the CCC Camp, Fish River. McClintock utilised a social realist style as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the co-operation between workers.

ART30265

Tradesmen, Herne Bay

Tradesmen from the Civil Construction Corps working in Herne Bay in Sydney during the Second World War. Pencil sketch for a painting and an intended mural.

ART30266

Mechanical navy and bulldozer at work, Graving Dock

Scene showing a bulldozer, workers and other equipment at Sydney graving dock. McClintock's focus on the immensity of the structures surrounding the workers is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken.

ART30268.001

Labourers, graving dock

Five labourers working at Sydney Graving Dock, using equipment such as drills and shovels. McClintock utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the co-operation between workers.

ART30268.002

Concrete gang, graving dock construction, July 1943

Four men working working to construct a graving dock in Sydney. They are performing tasks such as hammering, directing heavy loads, and shoveling. McClintock utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's appreciation of the co-operation between workers.

ART30268.003

Concrete workers, graving dock, August 1943

Several concrete workers shoveling, drilling and directing the movement of concrete slabs in front of buildings and other construction at Sydney Graving Dock. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist also...

ART30268.004

Concrete workers, graving dock, August 1943

Construction of the Sydney Graving Dock, showing a landscape of cranes and electric gantry. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures demonstrates the scale of the project being undertaken.

ART30268.005

Graving dock under construction, showing electric gantry, August 1943

Construction of the Sydney Graving Dock, showing a landscape of cranes and electric gantry. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist also utilises social realism as a means to facilitate the viewer's...

ART30268.006

Linesmen erecting pole, graving dock, August 1943

Several linesmen working to erect a pole at Sydney Graving Dock. They are attaching ropes to the pole. Cranes as well as other construction occupies the background. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist...

ART30268.007

Labourer with guy rope, graving dock construction, August 1943

A labourer working with a guy rope, with telegraph poles and cranes in the background. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken.

ART30268.008

Blacksmith forges with Caisson section of dock wall in construction

Construction of a dock wall at Sydney Graving Dock. Men stand and work in the sheds below. A caisson is half-way along the wall, partly engulfed by black smoke. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken.

ART30268.009

Section of dock wall under construction, September 1943; verso: sketch of dock wall construction in pencil

Part of the dock wall at Sydney Graving Dock below crane carrying concrete blocks. Workers are depicted below. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist also utilises social realism as a means to facilitate...

ART30268.010

Dock under construction

A scene from above of a graving dock under construction. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken.

ART30268.011

Sections of tank for floating caisson, graving dock, October 1943

Scene showing sections of tank for floating caisson at Sydney Graving Dock, as well as workers, dwarfed by the size of the structure. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being undertaken. The artist also utilises social realism as...

ART30268.012

Cement workers graving dock construction, October 1943

Three workers guide a cement structure, attached to a crane, at Sydney Graving Dock. Other cement workers stand in surrounding areas of concentrated construction. In the background more cement workers toil in higher-level structures. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is...

ART30268.013

Rope splicer, service wharf for graving dock under construction, October 1943

Landscape of Sydney Graving Dock featuring cranes and construction in the background, with a man smoking a pipe and splicing (terminating the end of a run of hot rope) in the foreground. McClintock's focus on the immensity of these structures is demonstrative of the scale of the project being...

ART30268.014

CCC men, Oberon, November 1943

Six independent figures generally walking and carrying building equipment such as poles and wheelbarrows.

ART30268.015

Studies, CCC workers, Oberon

Four figure studies including two men with shovels, the back study of a worker and a stout, faceless man striding.

ART30268.016

Early morning scene, CCC camp, Fish River, Oberon

Scene showing sheds and men during early morning. Trees and building equipment fill the surrounding area.

ART30268.017

CCC camp site, Fish River Oberon

Civil Construction Corps camp site at Fish River, Oberon.

ART30268.018

CCC workers clearing timber, Fish River, Oberon, November 1943

Several workers clearing timber. The men are chopping wood with axes as well as using other equipment to clear the wood.

ART30268.019

Interior CCC canteen, Oberon, November 1943

Interior of a canteen at the Civil Construction Corps camp site at Fish River, Oberon.

ART30268.020

Interior CCC hut, Fish River, Oberon, November 1943

Interior of a hut at the Civil Construction Corps camp site at Fish River, Oberon.

ART30268.021

CCC labourers Oberon, November 1943

Three labourers, bending their knees and exerting a large amount of energy, lift a thin, rectangular object.

ART30268.022

CCC camp site on Fish River, Oberon

Camp site scene including sheds, figures in groups, a large cylindrical object and surrounding hills and trees.

ART30268.023

Scene at CCC camp, Fish River, Oberon, November 1943

Scene including a man chopping with an axe, trees and hills, sheds and power lines.

ART30268.024

Bridge carpenters, service warf, graving dock

Five bridge carpenters working on a service warf for a graving dock.

ART30268.025

Photograph

P00936.001

PORTRAIT OF WWII ALLIED WORKS COUNCIL ARTIST HERBERT MCCLINTOCK. (DONOR: M. MCCLINTOCK)

P00936.001

Timeline

Date of birth 1906
Date of death 1985-04-16