Sharpe is a hard worker whose artistic practice is grounded in life drawing and painting. She has an honest approach to her art and draws prolifically. She was the recipient of the Archibald prize in 1996 for her Self-portrait as Diana of Erskinville. This portrait, like her paintings and drawings, shows her strength as a figurative painter and her exuberance with paint. Her work is full of sensuality and energy, brought out by her assured rendering of the human form and her passion for her subject. She was also willing to contend with the uncomfortable conditions likely in East Timor.
With her new title as "Australian Official Artist", Sharpe carried her army pack, art materials and four sketchbooks and began drawing immediately on her arrival in Darwin. She filled the sketchbooks with hundreds of drawings capturing the immediacy of her experiences in pencil, charcoal, pastel and gouache. They demonstrate her love of people and faces and offer vivid insights into the daily life of the soldiers and the East Timorese.
A group of powerful charcoal drawings of Suai Cathedral create a mood of foreboding: the cathedral soars against the night sky, shielding the horrors the militia perpetrated there against the fleeing East Timorese.
A series of watercolours and gouaches capture the everyday activities of Robertson Barracks. Kitchen, Roberston Barracks, Darwin shows the chef, clothed in white, preparing food; Self-portrait, Darwin shows Sharpe stripped to underclothes drawing in the coolness of her room. In the mess, Robertson Barracks, Darwin shows the young soldiers drinking lurid cordial.
Leaving Darwin for Dili, Sharpe found herself waiting for transport and spent the time sketching the young male and female soldiers playing cards in their t-shirts, singlets and shorts in Girls playing cards, Darwin and Boys playing cards, Darwin. Sharpe was struck by the youth of the soldiers and their amazing resourcefulness in changing situations. Her delightful...
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