House and Garden Western Suburbs, Melbourne 1988

Synthetic polymer paint on two canvases, 174.7 x 400 overall

signed, dated and titled [on reverse: ‘Howard Arkley 1988’]

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra [88.646.A-B]

A grand summation of Arkley’s developing suburban theme, this diptych was produced after his 1988 Tolarno show, and subsequently acquired for the national collection. The source, a real estate clipping of a house in the newer Melbourne suburb of Deer Park, is reproduced in Spray 89. Arkley’s files contain a series of photographs of him standing in front of the work at its first exhibition in Canberra in 1989 (for an example, see Carnival Fig.1.1).

For detailed discussion, see in particular Carnival 11ff., emphasising the scale and confidence of the painting, interpreted as a paradoxically ‘heroic’ image of suburbia.

The interior equivalent of this sweeping celebration of the everyday, produced a decade later, was Fabricated Rooms (1997-99), and, in the 2006 retrospective at the NGVA, curator Jason Smith brought these two major works into direct relationship, memorably encapsulating the expansive ambiguity of Arkley’s suburban vision.


  • Purchased directly via Tolarno (1988)


  • Canberra, Drill Hall Gallery, May 1989
  • HA Monash 1991, cat.73 (details as above)
  • ‘Federation’, NGA, 2001ff.
  • HA retrospective 2006-7 (all 3 venues)


  • Spray 89-91 (with ill.)
  • McDonald, Federation (2001):100 (ill.)
  • Gregory 2002: 76-77
  • Carnival 11ff. and Fig.1.5