Dr Dorothy Erickson

1956 Collegian

1956-Dorothy-Erickson-in-studio

Growing up on the farm in Bolgart, daughter of renowned naturalist, author, historian and artist Rica Erickson, it was not necessary to follow in my mother's path but it seems I have to some degree.

I earned pocket money at local shows drawing orchids and when eight, the year before I came to MLC, I won a state-wide craft award. As a primary student at MLC, my paintings were included in an international exhibition of children's art run by the United Nations. However, I did not consider art as a career as there were no fine art or fashion courses available in Perth at the time.

Instead, I became a teacher and moved to London where I undertook research for my mother's books and studied botany. On returning home I taught, became headmaster of a primary school, married and enrolled at the newly created WA Institute of Technology (WAIT now Curtin University) studying painting, printmaking, textiles, jewellery and silversmithing and art history. One of the first pieces I designed incorporated an opal given to me by my mother. I was hooked. It was a busy life as the wife of the Town Planning Commissioner Dr David Carr, teaching and taking classes at night.

I moved to lecturing at WAIT and commenced a career as an artist jeweller. My first solo exhibition was in 1977. Since then I have had 40 solos and many group exhibitions. It is most gratifying to have my work in major collections worldwide and be in the vanguard of taking Australian contemporary jewellery to Europe. In the 1980s it was wonderful as doors were opened for me. I started the Jewellers Group of Western Australia to use my contacts to assist others.

Many of my designs mix geometry with nature. They usually incorporate gold as grandfather had a goldmine and I have always been fascinated with gold. I also work with steel cable and precious stones.

In the late 1980s, I was crippled by a debilitating illness and had to stop jewellery making. I pursued my research and writing interests and graduated in 1992 with a PhD in Art History, the first to be awarded at UWA. I have since published three books, edited a number of others and write regularly for many journals.

My advice is to be persistent, never give up and do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

On MLC: As a tiny boarder I was very spoilt by the bigger girls who treated me somewhat as a doll – a warm welcome leading to the opportunities and camaraderie provided at the school and which will remain with me always.