Bill Yaxley was born in Melbourne in 1943, and spent his late childhood and teenage years in country Victoria where his father served as branch manager in Shepparton for the Queensland Insurance Company. Drawn to art as a young man and completely self taught, Yaxley admired the work of a diverse range of Australian artists including Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan, and Max Meldrum.
At 18 the artist left Victoria to work as a field assistant with BHP in Cape York Peninsula and later in the mineral rich Pilbara region of Western Australia, painting and recording his travels throughout this period. After travelling abroad in Canada and the United States, the United Kingdom and France, Yaxley spent time travelling and working in New Zealand, where he held his first solo exhibition in New Plymouth in 1969.
Eventually returning to Australia, the artist and his wife, Helen, settled in the central Queensland coastal community of Byfield, north of Yeppoon, where they farmed citrus fruits and Yaxley was able to continue to paint, exhibiting with Ray Hughes Gallery in Brisbane and later in Sydney when that gallery relocated south.
Since then Yaxley’s work has continued to be exhibited widely. In 1988 and 1990 his work was shown at the Galleria San Vidal, Venice, Italy. In 1993 it was curated in the exhibition Dame Edna Regrets at the Museum of Modern Art, Heidi, Melbourne, and in 2003 it was included in the exhibition Beneath the Monsoon: Visions North of Capricorn shown at Artspace Mackay. In 2004 his work was the subject of a survey exhibition, William Yaxley, at the Carnegie Gallery, Hobart; whilst later it was included in the travelling exhibition Raw and Compelling: Australian Naïve Art – the continuing tradition a survey exhibition focusing on Australian naïve artists from the second half of the twentieth century curated by the Swan Hill Regional Art Gallery, Victoria.
Bill Yaxley’s work is represented in several public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hamilton Art Gallery, New Zealand, University Art Museum, University of Queensland, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, University of Tasmania, Rockhampton Art Gallery and the Parliament House Art Collection, Canberra.
17 February – 14 March
12 February – 9 March
8 March – 2 April
10 February – 7 March
Lakes, Lava Fields and Lagoons: Tasmania to the Tropics
6 February – 3 March
20 September – 15 October