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state library of queensland
Australian Library of Art

Sandgate and Redcliffe acknowledge the work of Kathleen and Leonard Shillam

By Administrator | 10 February 2016

Leonard Shillam was born in 1915 in Brisbane and attended Brisbane Grammar School until 1931. He then enrolled at the Central Technical College in Brisbane. Kathleen O'Neill was born in Devonshire, England 1916. Her father was a freelance artist who worked from home and travelled frequently. In 1920 he visited Australia and encouraged his family to emigrate.

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Len Shillam finishing a bronze sculpture of a penguin 1983

Len Shillam finishing a bronze sculpture of a penguin 1983

In 1927 Kath and her older sister arrived in Brisbane and settled in Sandgate. In 1929 Kath won a scholarship to attend Brisbane Girls Grammar School. In 1932 she enrolled in Art School where she met Len Shillam. Kath left the college in 1934 to work as a commercial artist. Len and Kath continued to work together in shared studio space in Brisbane.

Len and Kath Shillam at Lost World weekend with Queensland Wildlife Artists Society 1987

Len and Kath Shillam at Lost World weekend with Queensland Wildlife Artists Society 1987

The Sandgate & District Historical Museum will host a talk on Sunday 28th February at 2pm, by Pam Verney, on the lives of Kathleen and Leonard Shillam, with a visual display of a selection of their works. This talk will be a prelude to the "Shillam Sculpture Legacy" exhibition to be presented by the Redcliffe City Art Gallery from 11th March to 30th April. Works from SLQ collection will be included in the exhibition.

Kathleen and Leonard Shillam lived in Holmes Street, Brighton all of their married lives. They met at the Brisbane Art College in 1932, and began a shared career in the arts. Their works included drawings, sketches, paintings, carvings and sculptures.

They are primarily known for their sculpting but were accomplished painters. Some of their best known works include “Pelicans" in the Queensland Art Gallery water mall, "The Banker" on the wall of the Westpac Bank in Queen Street, the City, "Proclamation Figure" in St. John's Cathedral, and the Queensland Coat of Arms.

The Cormorants

The Cormorants

Their work “Cormorants" was presented to the people of Sandgate in 2002, and can be seen majestically surveying the village from their special home in the Einbunpin Lagoon.

The Cormorants, at Einbunpin Lagoon, Sandgate.

The Cormorants, at Einbunpin Lagoon, Sandgate.

For more information regarding the talk on Sunday 28th February, contact the Sandgate Museum on ph. 3869 2283.

For more information about the works of Kath and Len Shillam, visit the State Library of Queensland and view collections that were donated to the State Library’s Australian Library of Art. These include a collection of papers, notes, newspaper clippings, exhibition catalogues, hundreds of photographs and five maquettes (small models of sculptures) details can be found through following the links below:





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