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Douglas Shenton Annand (1903–1976)

by Bettina MacAulay

This article was published:

Douglas Shenton Annand (1903-1976), graphic designer and artist, was born on 22 March 1903 at Toowoomba, Queensland, third child of Frederick William Gadsby Annand, accountant, and his wife Helen Alice, née Robinson, both Queenslanders. Having taken the commercial course at the Central Technical College, Brisbane, in 1920 Douglas joined the English, Scottish & Australian Bank. Five years later he began work as a commercial artist at Reed Press and attended night-classes at Brisbane Central Technical College under L. J. Harvey. While being taught by F. J. Martyn Roberts, Annand freelanced in 1926: he was commissioned by a Brisbane jewellery firm and prepared wildflower designs for the Royal Worcester Co. Ltd, England. On 18 August 1928 he married Maida Fulcher Morris (d.1954) at the Ann Street Presbyterian Church, Brisbane; they were to have two sons.  

He was employed by Samson Clark & Co. Ltd, an advertising agency, from 1928 and transferred to its Sydney office in 1930; retrenched, he joined Allied Advertising Artists. In 1931 he left to become a freelance artist and designer. Working from his studio in Sydney, he was initially assisted by his sister Helen. At first he concentrated on graphic design, especially for textiles, wrapping papers, labels, magazine covers and advertisements. Between 1935 and 1939 he drew for Sydney Ure Smith's publications, the Home, Art in Australia and the Australian National Journal. In 1937 he designed the ceiling for the Australian pavilion at the Paris International Exhibition; he was art director (1938-39) of the Australian exhibition at the New York World's Fair where his murals brought major recognition.

In 1941-44 Annand was a camouflage artist with the Royal Australian Air Force. Stationed for two years in North Queensland, he painted and drew regularly, and exhibited water-colours in Sydney and Melbourne. His linear style often used simple colour washes for dramatic effect. The strongest paintings placed ambiguous perspective and compressed forms in a symbolic relationship, and united them with landscape to form a framing but secondary aspect of the composition. Some of these works revealed the influence of the British artist Paul Nash. After the war Annand became more involved in mural painting and completed commissions for the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Co., the office of radio station 2UE, the University of Melbourne's new Wilson Hall and the international terminal at Sydney airport. From the mid-1950s he developed an interest in architectural work, like the large, glass structures he completed in 1966 for the Colonial Sugar Refining Co., Sydney.

Tall and balding, with brown eyes and a trim moustache, Annand was gentle in manner and a discursive talker. His innovative experiments with diverse media led to new approaches and injected vitality into the design arts. In 1932 he had won a competition to design a poster to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Awarded two Australian Commercial and Industrial Artists' Association medals in 1940, he won the Sulman prize for his murals in 1941, 1947 and 1951. His posters won prizes in 1960 at the Adelaide Festival of Arts and in 1968 at Milan, Italy. He was a member of the Society of Artists, the Contemporary Art Society, Sydney, and the Society of Industrial Designers, London.

On 12 March 1957 at Wesley Church, Melbourne, Annand had married a divorcee Ann Selwyn, née Moran, late McCrae; he divorced her in 1962. Survived by a son of his first marriage, he died on 14 December 1976 at Wahroonga, Sydney, and was cremated. His work is held in the National Gallery of Australia and the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, and in State galleries in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Ure Smith (ed), Douglas Annand (Syd, 1944)
  • J. Campbell, Australian Watercolour Painters, 1780-1980 (Adel, 1983)
  • R. Searle, Douglas Annand Watercolours 1935-50, exhibition catalogue (Townsville, 1988)
  • Art and Australia, 15, no 1, 1977
  • Courier-Mail (Brisbane), 27 May 1970, 6 July 1974
  • Australian, 19 Oct 1974
  • Townsville Daily Bulletin, 19 Dec 1987
  • Australian Financial Review, 21 Sept 1989
  • D. Annand file (Queensland Art Gallery Library)
  • private information.

Citation details

Bettina MacAulay, 'Annand, Douglas Shenton (1903–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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