This site has been set up to promote awareness of the 20th Century Australian artist, William Edwin Pidgeon, aka “Wep”.

Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at the entrance to under his home at 85 Northwood Road where he kep his pottery wheel and kiln; Jan 1969
Bill Pidgeon (Wep) at the entrance to underneath his home at 85 Northwood Road where he kept his pottery wheel and kiln; Jan 1969

Bill Pidgeon’s career spanned from the late 1920s through to the 1970s.  He started out in the newspaper industry and quickly forged a name in the local Sydney Press, known as “Wep”. In 1933 he helped create the dummy for The Australian Women’s Weekly with his friend and the magazine’s first editor, George Warnecke.  Working for Consolidated Press he became well known throughout Australia for his political cartoons, comic strips, illustrations and his covers for The Australian Women’s Weekly, which are now collectables today.  However, Bill’s true passion was his painting and in January 1949 he resigned from Consolidated Press to concentrate on painting and earn an income from commisioned portraits.  He ultimately went on to win Australia’s most prestigious prize for portraiture, The Archibald Prize, on three occassions. Only 5 other artists have exceeded this record, which he shares with Clifton Pugh. However his earlier career always overshadowed the success of his painting with headlines such as “Cartoonist wins Archibald.”

In 1956 he was diagnosed with glaucoma in both eyes and underwent a total of 6 operations on his eyes to remove cataracts and ultimately the eye lenses.  By the 1970s he was deemd to be legally blind.  The difficulties he faced with his eyesight were always kept very private for fear of losing valuable commissions.

Bill was never a commercial artist. He painted for the love of it and would rather give his works away than sell them.  He never had a solo exhibition and only participated in a handful of group exhibitions.  Consequently, not many works have changed hands and since his death; awareness of his name has slipped from the visibility of the modern art world.

Through this site and links to other sites I aim to promote a new awareness and appreciation of the works and variety of talent of one of Australia’s greatest 20th Century artists.

Peter Pidgeon

17 Replies to “About”

  1. Peter,
    Have had a brief look and want to read more!
    Fantastic that you have made such an effort with this website, what a wonderful way to capture and promote awareness.
    Well done!

  2. Peter,
    I too would like more time to check out your website and look forward to having a real good look, not just a 5 min glance.
    Kindest regards to you all

  3. Dear Peter,

    I saw your post on Flickr of an invitation to a garden party at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday 22nd of June, 1937. I too have the exact one which was addressed to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother. I’m currently trying to piece together my family history and wondered if you could shed any light on what the invitation was in regards to?

    Kind regards.


  4. Hi Robin,
    I have not researched this specifically at this stage. I would suggest that a search of British Newspaper Archive may reveal news items about the garden party. You could probably access this through your local library. I believe that garden parties are held regularly, perhaps annually and people in the know get invites. Not sure how Thirza got on the list. It may have been through some of her social contacts or through Australia House or maybe she simply applied. Try searching Trove also.

  5. Hi Peter
    Previously I noticed a sketch of my grandfather SGT AJ Wyatt MM from Atherton.
    That sketch appears to have been taken down.
    would you be willing to email me a copy of the sketch?
    I would like to give it to my father, who is aging.
    Steve Wyatt
    ex digger from 1 RAR and 5/7 RAR

  6. Hi Steve, that’s great you have confirmed who it is. I did some detective work a while ago and worked out that my father returned from his 1944 New Guinea trip via the Atherton Tablelands and that is where he must have met and completed the three sketches of the Military Medal men, your grandfather, Arthur James Wyatt being one of them. The one of Sgt Wyatt was always a favourite of mine. Dad had a real ability to capture a person’s character and I can imagine he was a nice bloke. I will email you privately about your request. Note that the blog post you refer to is still online as is the picture and its link to my Flickr Gallery http://wepidgeon.com/pidgeonpost/?p=3307
    The image is from a scan of a negative of a photo I took in 1986/7. The drawing was exhibited in “W.E. Pidgeon: War Paintings 1943 – 1945” at Bloomfield Galleries in 1988, catalogue listing #94. It was sold at that time so I am unable to obtain a better quality image now. I would really appreciate some background info on your grandfather and his service record if available. Is it digitised on the National Archives website? This might help add more to the story of the picture and its timeline. – Peter P

  7. Hello Peter,
    I chanced upon your blog while searching for old photos about Jesselton, Papar and Beaufort in wartime North Borneo. From Wep’s caricature of himself wearing a native hat, I knew he must be an accomplished artist. His sketches of Jeep train and Borneo people are so nostalgic of an era that is so consequential to the history and culture of Sabah. We are toying with the idea to publish some of his photos and sketches in a coffee table book about Sabah entitled “Sabah Maju Jaya” (Sabah Then & Now) expected for release in Q1 2017. Please let me know of your thoughts on this possibility. Thanks and Warm Regards – Joe Lau

  8. Hi Peter,

    I came upon this site whilst searching for material (written or visual) in relation to Coomalie airfield during WWII. Are you able to contact me via email to discuss materials you have relating to this area please?

  9. Hi- a picture of my grandfather Jack Hickson is on your site and I would really like to discuss whether I might be able to track down the negative. Please can you send me an email?

  10. Hello
    Love all this history
    Can I email you
    Margie Sullivan
    11 Gurner st paddington

  11. My father Cliff Eager, Fairfax, SMH, War Correspondent spoke of his friend and fellow war correspondent, Pidgeon with great warmth. I was thrilled to see the photos of Dad, and read the references to him in Bill’s letters home. I remember many of Dads entertaining war stories, mostly very humorous and sacrilegious.
    Would it be possible for me to get copies of 2 photos, 23 July 1945 ?
    1) Cliff Eager relaxing in camp at Labuan
    2) War correspondents Jimmy Smyth and Cliff Eager.

    Sandra Eager

  12. Interesting that Pidgeon resided at 290 Glenmore Road Paddington. My family was listed as residing at that address in 1914. I wonder if there was any connection? I’d be keen to connect.

  13. Hi Mark – will also email privately.

    The property was built by my great grandfather, Bill’s grandfather, master builder, John White who lived at and also built “Trelawney” (No. 1) in Gurner Street on the corner of Glenmore Road. John was a long time Councillor and Mayor for a time.

    290 was the home of my grandparents, Fred and Thirza (nee White) Pidgeon. Fred died at 38 years in June 1913 of encephalitis leaving Thirza and her two boys Jack (aged 9) and Bill (aged 4). I understand there was a period that the family moved in with John White at Gurner Street and rented the property out. Thirza and children then moved around a little and were living at Bondi in 1930 but returned to 290 around that time before Bill married in 1933. Thirza lived at 290 during the 1930s. When her father died in 1935, I believe Thirza relocated the property name “Trelawney” from John White’s house in Gurner Street to 290 Glenmore Road. When Thirza died in 1941, she was living at Bondi.

    Jack and Bill inherited the property and rented it out. After Jack died, Bill purchased his brother’s half share and the property remained in the family until it was sold in 1988. The “Trelawney” name plate remained on the property until the 2000s when a more recent owner removed it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

error: Content is protected !!