100 Highlights from the Cbus Collection of Australian Art
27 July 2022


(1956 - 2011)

oil on canvas

202.5 x 179.0 cm

signed, dated and inscribed with title verso: david Larwill/1985/’departure I’
bears inscription on stretcher bar verso: No / 2

$30,000 – $50,000
Sold for $39,273 (inc. BP) in Auction 70 - 27 July 2022, Melbourne

Coventry Gallery, Sydney 
Private collection, acquired from the above in 1985
Sotheby’s, Melbourne, 30 April 2002, lot 81 (as 'Departure T')
The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, Melbourne, acquired from the above


Probably: Melbourne Group Show, Coventry Gallery, Sydney, 1985, cat. 2
Colour and Movement, Benalla Art Gallery, Victoria, 19 February – 9 June 2016
on long term loan to Bendigo Art Gallery, Victoria 


Nainby, B., Stanhope, Z., and Furlonger, K., The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, in association with Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 16, 131 (illus.), 223 (as 'Departure T')

Catalogue text

ROAR Studios and Gallery was established in 1982 in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy as a place where a group of like-minded artists could come together to create and exhibit their work outside of the city’s established galleries, who were, at that time, uninterested in their art. As one of ROAR’s co-founders, David Larwill’s larrikin-like personality and blokey joie de vivre saw him quickly assume a role as the group’s unofficial figurehead and spokesperson, championing art-making that was spontaneous, intuitive and accessible, and an alternative to what they perceived as the overly theorised nature of contemporary art. 

Ironically, in just a few short years, ROAR and its artists, and especially Larwill, had made a tremendous impact, renowned as much for their carousing and parties as for their exuberant expressionist work. As art critic Christopher Heathcote recalled in The Age in 1992: 'The Roar painters have been one of the very few vanguard groups to emerge in Australian art in the late 20th century. Not since the 1960s, have Melburnians witnessed an attempt by a small band of spirited younger artists to upset the complacent order of the contemporary scene. And they were able to bring about change not because of the art system, but in spite of it… Between 1982 and 1985 Roar Studios was the most creative irritant that had disturbed the Melbourne art system for years.’1

Largely self-taught, Larwill had a sporadic art education, studying briefly at Prahran College of Advanced Education in 1975, followed by a stint at Preston Institute of Technology in 1980. Heavily influenced by both the work and spirit of Australia’s Angry Penguins, and by international artists such Paul Klee, Picasso, the CoBrA group and Jean Dubuffet and his interest in ‘art brut’, Larwill’s own work was unplanned, spontaneous and emotive. Through a process of trial and error and a willingness to experiment, Larwill quickly arrived at the kind of ‘signature style’ that we witness in Departure I, 1985 with its characteristic childlike figures, all-over patterning, bold palette and thick, assured brushstrokes. Yet despite the intuitive nature of Larwill’s approach, the densely packed forms of Departure I also highlight the way in which he continued to work an image – applying multiple layers of paint and adding and subtracting motifs2 – until he was satisfied with it. As he had said: ‘I start by just drawing figures and lines on the canvas. Then I keep flipping the canvas round until I see something to build on, or what seems to be coming out.’3 ‘You’ve just got to put your heart in it and be honest.’4

1. Coslovich, G., ‘Artists Reunite from Roaring ‘80s’, The Age, 23 February 2011,, accessed 24 May 2022
2. McDonald, J., ‘Cult of the Untouchables’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 July 1987, p. 50, cited in McGregor, K., & Thomson, E., David Larwill, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1997, p. 22
3. McGregor et al., ibid., p. 18
4. Ibid., p. 28