John Rigby – Born 9 December, 1922 in Brisbane.
A child of the Great Depression, contributing to the combination of both commercial work for livelihood and artistic works.
Studied art at Central Technical College, Brisbane.
Victor Day & Sons – assisted sign writers with posters.
National Advertising – The Courier-Mail. Artwork for major clients such as Castlemaine XXXX beer.
1942 – 1946
Served in the Australian Military Forces, 26 March 1942 – 20 September 1946, enlisting at age 19.
Served in Australia and then New Guinea and New Britain where he was involved in Intelligence – collecting, collating and assimilating information on troop movements and topographical map production for the Pacific region. In his spare time he painted and used a reproduction system for his widely circulated weekly cartoon strips on army life.
1946 – 1947
Worked in freelance commercial art in Brisbane and was sports cartoonist for The Sunday Mail, Brisbane.
1948 – 1950
Studied at East Sydney Technical College. Awarded Diploma in Fine Art (January 1951) under the Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme.
Completed the five-year course in three years at the Strathfield Annex in Sydney’s near west and at the main campus at Darlinghurst. Two fellow students were John Coburn and Jon Molvig. Rigby and Molvig became long-time close friends.
1951 – 1952
Returned to painting and commercial art in Brisbane.
Began exhibiting in mixed exhibitions at the Marodian Gallery and then The Johnstone Gallery.
Making an impression in the art world.
A finalist in both the Archibald Prize with a portrait of friend Jon Molvig and the Wynne Prize (two chosen). Jon Molvig entered the Archibald with a portrait of Rigby and, while rejected, it hung in a reject show and was later highly praised in the art world.
First one-man (solo) exhibition at Johnstone Gallery.
An Archibald finalist with a self portrait and finalist in the Wynne (2) and the Sulman Prize.
First major art prize.
Won the Dante Alighieri Society/Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship with ‘Italian Family (North Queensland)’.
1956 – 1958
Travelled abroad to live and paint in Italy under the Italian Government Travelling Art Scholarship won in 1955. Later visited England and France.
The sites of Italy were inspiring and uplifting. Rigby wanted to extend time overseas and lived in England for several months, including London and the Cornwall area. Returned to Australia by ship from Italy after a visit to Paris, arriving back in Brisbane in late January 1958. At the end of the year he had major exhibitions of his Italian works in Sydney and Brisbane.
1958 – 1972
Involved in commercial art and painting, Brisbane.
Won Australia’s richest art prize in 1958 – The Australian Women’s Weekly Art Prize (Portrait) for 1958; 1959 Caltex Art Prize, Qld; Centenary Year RNA Prize; Redcliffe Centenary Art Contest; 1962 Sulman Prize and many others.
Rigby continues to consolidate and find his way in art. In 1972 at age 50 the decision to leave advertising.