Rosalie Gascoigne

Tesserae W, 1991
sawn soft drink crates
43.5 x 36.0 cm
titled, signed and dated 'Tesserae W/Rosalie Gascoigne/1991' (on the reverse)


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Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Private collection
auction, Christie’s, Melbourne, 27 November 2001, lot. 21
Acquired from
the above by the present owner

Rosalie Gascoigne, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 15 April – 2 May 1992, cat. no. 40. 

Vici Macdonald, Rosalie
, Regaro Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1998, p.106.

Tesserae, (singular
tessera), a Latin word, refers to a small block of stone, tile, glass or other material used in the creation of a mosaic.  Tesserae W forms
part of a series of works of the same title, created between 1989–1991. Constructed using discarded soft-drink crates collected en-masse from the Schweppes depot in Queanbeyan in the early 1980s, Tesserae W was first shown at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney in

An impressive example of her use of Modernist strategies – ‘those of fragmentation, re-assemblage, repetition, tessellation and compression…’[1], Tesserae W encapsulates key aspects of Gascoigne’s artistic practice. Sawn and deliberately proportioned fragments are arranged into a grid, creating a rhythmic pattern that transcends the spatial and substantive limitations of the plane to evoke a sense of place.
 Expressing her preference for allusion over direct representation, a palette of red, yellow and white imbues this work with an energy and exuberance that echoes the infinite expansiveness of a sunset sky.

[1] Edwards, D., Rosalie Gascoigne: Material as Landscape, exhibition catalogue, 14 November 1997 – 11 January 1998, The Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1998, p.11.

  • Tesserae W

Image courtesy of the Rosalie Gascoigne Estate and Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney

View artist profile

A relative latecomer to the art world, Rosalie Gascoigne made an incredible contribution to Australian landscape. It was only after practicing ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, from 1962 that Gascoigne began to turn seriously towards the visual arts. Beginning with iron assemblages from 1964, in the 1970s she made works from animal bones and found objects from Australian country houses. Her aim there and across her career was to depict the land using materials found upon it, a cycle of reuse that mirrors the diversity of relationships that Australians have with the landscape.

In her late work, Gascoigne moved away from the pure display of found objects into more rigorous compositions. From the 1980s, she began using reflective road signs, incorporating text in a gridlike manner reminiscent of crossword puzzles, a favourite pastime. Originally taking the signs as she found them, she began to become more involved in slicing them herself, producing intricate grids of words resembling parquetry. Armed with these segments of yellow signs, sheets of corrugated iron, linoleum and wood, she produced highly textural works, including many large-scale installations.

Gascoigne was born in 1917 in Auckland, New Zealand. She graduated from Auckland University in 1939 and moved to Canberra, ACT in 1943. Her artistic career spanned over 30 years, launched at the age of fifty by the support of the then National Gallery of Australia director, James Mollison. Gascoigne held her last solo exhibition at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney just months before her death in 1999.

In 1982 Gascoigne represented Australia at the 40th Venice Biennale with Peter Booth. Since that time she has been included in many important group exhibitions and solo survey exhibitions in Australia, New Zealand and Europe; such as, at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2009); Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand (2004); Drill Hall Gallery, Australian National University, Canberra (2000), and with the major survey Material as Landscape, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1997 touring to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (1998). Gascoigne's work is held in every state collection in Australia and many regional collections. Rosalie Gascoigne: A Catalogue Raisonné, was published by ANU Press in 2019, compiled by her son, Martin Gascoigne.