Honorary awards

Lloyd Frederic Rees

Lloyd Frederic Rees, artist, part-time Instructor in Freehand Drawing and Part-time Lecturer in Sculpture and Painting in the Faculty of Architecture in the University of Sydney 1946-69, was awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters on 9 May 1970.

Lloyd Rees

Lloyd Rees, photo G3_224_1081, University of Sydney Archives.


Presented by the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Bruce Williams:

In his delightful volume - "The Small Treasures of a Lifetime" - Lloyd Rees writes that he was conscious of his natural instincts for drawing and painting before his school days began.

At school, in Brisbane, it seems that he was not good at mathematics but he used his artistic talents to obscure this. For in exchange for drawings of the devil and like beings, a fellow student helped him with his exercises. When, whether from "prickings of conscience or fear for the more distant future", he ceased this practice, his apparent progress in maths was not maintained.

After one year at high school which included formal instruction in art, he sought apprentice training in architecture, to follow up an "almost fanatical interest in architecture". But always an honest answer to the question, "How are your mathematics?" frustrated his ambitions.

This did not daunt his enthusiasm for drawing buildings, whether real or ideal, and this kept him in contact with architects. He was given greater encouragement by, amongst others, Robin Dods - Sir Lorimer's father and the leading Brisbane architect of the day. With pencil, pen and paper, and impressions of Paris buildings derived from his first school geography book, Rees redesigned Brisbane as a city of handsome buildings, boulevards, riverside quays, graceful bridges, trees, squares, and fountains.

In Brisbane he developed a drawing technique based on the white of the paper and a minimum of line to express light and shade. He used fine and broken line with an almost cobweb texture, to express the shimmer of light in black and white, in much the same way that broken colour does in painting.

But it was a limited medium and inadequate to express the deeper tones of Sydney, where he came from Brisbane in 1919 at the age of 24. Sydney called for interpretation in paint, and so, he tells us, the problem of oil painting had to be faced. This led to long years of struggle and failure.

But Rees persisted and triumphed. His great retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery last year showed that the paintings of his eighth decade have reached new heights of skill and vision in the handling of light. He was born with talent, but the full development of that talent required courage, a grand vision, and a sense of calling.

In some of his recent paintings Rees has returned to his first subject, the meaning of architecture. Twenty-seven years ago, Professor Leslie Wilkinson - whom we honoured last week and are delighted to have with us again today - arranged for Lloyd
Rees to become Instructor in Art to our Scbool of Architecture. This was an inspired appointment. Lloyd Rees still instructs our students, to their great delight and benefit. His influence on successive waves of students has been enormous. He instructs them in art, and lectures on the history of art and architecture. The fire and warmth of his personality, the depth of his convictions concerning the values expressed in art and architecture, the power of his creative imagination, have inspired his students.

From The University of Sydney News, 2 July 1970