Jeffrey Makin is a full-time artist, art critic and Director of Port Jackson Press Australia. Born in Wagga Wagga NSW, he has a diploma in painting from the National Art School, Sydney and a Master’s Degree (Research) from Deakin University Melbourne. Makin has held numerous senior academic appointments while maintaining a flourishing artistic practice (nationally and internationally with over 60 solo exhibitions), and is recognized as one of Australia’s leading landscape painters.
Makin’s work has long explored the picturesque and the sublime in nature, rooted in a specifically Australian locality. The You Yangs, the Grampians, Mt Buller, Wannon Falls and the Yarra Valley are all locations that Makin has visited intermittently throughout his career, in search of capturing those intangible qualities that form the essence of the land. His 2008 exhibition at the James Makin Gallery, titled Landmarks features “portraits” of these iconic Victorian natural features, along with paintings of other well-known locations within Australia, such as the Hawkesbury River in NSW and Cape Pillar in Tasmania.
Landmarks by their very nature are immediately identifiable, partly through constructed imagery created through mediums such as painting, which become integral to our perception of them. Makin was first introduced to the You Yangs by the late Fred Williams whom he painted with in the 1970s, but the desire to depict Australia’s landmarks dates back to the efforts of 19th century colonial artists. Eugene von Guerard, Nicholas Chevalier and Louis Buvelot all painted the Grampians, while Buvelot and Chevalier also depicted Wannon Falls.
Recent record sales of Makin’s paintings indicate a renewed interest in the landscape genre, more specifically in Makin’s oeuvre as he remains the living heir to the Heidelberg School tradition. In a career that has been dedicated toward capturing the vastness of Australia’s varying terrain, his work invariably succeeds in its depiction of the genius locus, or ‘spirit of place’.
Makin is represented in all national, state and most regional and corporate collections in Australia. In 2007 a boutique hotel in Melbourne was named in his honour. He is featured in numerous references and a monograph, Australia Felix: Landscapes by Jeffrey Makin by Jenny Zimmer, Craftsman House 2002.