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Sergeant Jimmy Waters, Australian Imperial Force, 1941
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Sergeant Jimmy Waters, Australian Imperial Force, 1941

Measurements: 54cm (21.25in) x 53cm (21in)



Painted plaster. An over life-sized portrait bust by Barbara Tribe (Australian, 1913-2000). Signed and inscribed to the reverse 'Barbara Tribe /  LONDON 1941'

Barbara Tribe was born in Sydney in 1913 and trained at the East Sydney Technical College under the head of the Sculpture Department, Rayner Hoff who she assisted on the Art-Deco style Anzac War Memorial in Sydney’s Hyde Park. In 1935 she won the New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship and travelled to London where she enrolled at the Royal Academy Schools and at the City & Guilds School of Art in Kennington. Her command of the human form as expressed in a pair of bronzes, ‘Lovers I’ and ‘Lovers II’, was admired by the Bloomsbury painter and teacher Duncan Grant.

In 1937 her scholarship funding came to an end but she remained in the London, working, during the Second World War, in a clerical job at the Ministry of Supply before moving to newly created Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments in 1942. In 1940 ‘Lovers II’ was exhibited at the Royal Academy and purchased by a wealthy Danish collector, who subsequently commissioned her to produce a portrait bust of his late brother. She further honed her portraiture skills with the present bust of Jimmy Waters, a volunteer with the A.I.F. whom she met at Australia House.  Waters sat to Tribe during 1941 and in due course the couple became engaged. However the relationship failed after Waters was posted to the Middle East, and her troubles were compounded  by a perforated eardrum caused by incessant air raids.

In 1943 Australia House provided further work in the form of seven portrait busts of serving Australian airmen for the Australian government. Several of these were subsequently cast in bronze, and entered the Australian War Memorial collection. The present bust was exhibited at one of the Civil Defence Artists' Exhibition organised by Vera Cunningham at the Cooling Galleries, New Bond Street, circa 1942-44, and is  and illustrated in the artist monograph 'Barbara Tribe, Sculptor' by Patricia R.McDonald (2000).