Photos | The shy shire artist who left a legacy of hundreds of paintings

Sutherland Shire artist Terrence Jeff was too shy to exhibit his works in public.

Terrence was a talented artist who worked for Sir Frank Packer and was originally happy to exhibit his works in pubic.

But when a large number of his works disappeared while he was exhibiting them overseas in the 1980s he was so upset he vowed never to show his works in public again.

When he died in 2013 aged 75, Terrence Jeff left behind hundreds of paintings which his widow, Verna would now like to share with the world.

“Terrence was an extremely talented artist who devoted his spare time to art from an early age,” Verna said. 

“He was extremely shy and also did not really want to sell his paintings so he made no effort to become known in the art world.

“However, I can no longer keep storing them and they need to be seen and appreciated as they are as good as any in the museums.”

In the 1970's Terrence Jeff exhibited at the Duke of Wellington Gallery, Mosman NSW and also at the Sutherland Entertainment Centre NSW.

“In 1980-81, Qantas took 100 of his drawings to exhibit in some of the major cities in the USA,” Verna said.

“In 1997-98, he was invited to show at the opening of the international 3rd Wish Studio in Ventura, California by Paul Wegner, the famous American sculptor whose bronzes are owned by the US government.

“Terrence was contracted to do a series of Limited Edition prints for the American 'Heritage Galleries'. Unfortunately, just after the brochures were printed the gallery burnt down.

“In 2009, his picture of Anke Hoeppner, soloist with the Sydney Opera Company, was exhibited at the Archibald, at her request.

“Terrence was an unusual artist in that he was excellent in not just landscape, still life and figure work but also in his series of birds and pencil drawings.

“He is noted for his attention to detail regardless of genre and his depiction of mood and emotion.

“However, since his death I have not been able to get anyone to look at them.

“I cannot even donate any of them to any of the museums. I have tried to donate his 'Eureka Stockade' to the Ballarat Art Gallery but they say they “have it very effectively covered'.

“I have contacted several galleries regarding donating a major work of Australian significance – they have not even asked to see any of his work. 

“The Art Gallery of NSW said “this work does not fit our current collection policy” and the reply from the National Art Gallery was similar.

“I have personally taken a few of his paintings around to several galleries in Sydney, but although they admired the quality of his work it does not fit the style that their clients want to buy.

“I even tried contacting several auction houses including one in Melbourne but as they had never heard of him they were not interested.

“I am at my wit’s end. He was a great Australian artist, tremendously talented but because he did not show and sell in his lifetime the galleries are not interested in his work.

“These paintings need to be seen. I live in a one-bedroom cottage and do not have the place to store them and they will eventually deteriorate as his drawings are already doing.

“I am 76 years old and if they are not sold, after my death they will go on the tip.

“This would be a great shame for Australia and indeed the world.”

Verna is hoping that a local gallery will present an exhibition of her husband’s paintings so that people can see the range of his work.

“I’m hoping someone can help me do something so these paintings are seen and appreciated as they should be,” she said.

Verna can be contacted on 9522 2614.