Deborah Halpern works in a wide range of media, including ceramics, sculpture, charcoal drawing, gouache and printmaking.
She was born in Melbourne in 1957, the daughter of artist and ceramists Sylvia and Artec Halpern, and began her training as an apprentice in ceramic works in 1976. She studied painting at Caulfield Institute of Technology in 1979 and in 1981 she began her exhibiting career with a solo show at Blackwood Street Gallery, and her work was also included in the annual Victorian Ceramic Show.
The following year, Halpern worked at the Croyden Community Centre as Artist in Residence. At the same time, her work was selected in Australian Crafts, 1982, at the Melbourne Meat market Craft Centre, and Potters Gallery Sydney, a group show titled "Teapot1". In 1983 Halpern exhibited solo at Rosie's Gallery in Albert Park, Victoria.
In 1984, she worked as a lecturer at Phillip Institute of Technology. She was involved in five group shows at this time, including at the National Gallery of Victoria. She was also awarded by the Arts and Crafts Society of Victoria their 5th Annual Award.
Since 1981, Halpern has had 10 major commissions for public space sculptures as well as numerous private commissions. She has exhibited regularly with Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne, since 1985, with numerous exhibitions interstate during that time.
Her work is held in the collections of the Australian National Gallery, the State Galleries of Queensland, Victoria, and Western Australia, and a number of Regional and University Collections
Deborah Halpern is perhaps best known for her sculpture 'Angel', which was commissioned to stand in the moat at the entrance to the National Gallery of Victoria, and is now installed at its new home on the Yarra Bank at Birrarung Marr, alongside the National Gallery of Victoria’s Ian Potter Centre, Federation Square. This work is a fine example of her trademark use of hand painted ceramic tiles in the construction of her sculptures.
To coincide with the relocation of ‘Angel’ in 2006, a major solo exhibition of Halpern’s Sculpture and Printmaking was held at the NGV. The show was accompanied by a significant catalogue, including essays by Geoffrey Edwards (Director, Geelong Gallery, former Senior Curator, Sculpture, NGV) and David Hurlston (Curator, NGV).
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS 2006 Angel, Ian Potter Centre: National Gallery of Victoria; Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 2004 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 2003 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne; The Loft - Art Space At Rochford 2001 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1999-00 Buschlen Mowatt Fine Art Gallery, Vancouver Canada 1999 Art’s Toys, Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1998 Chapman Gallery, Canberra, ACT 1997 Despard Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania 1996 Small Works, Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1995 Sculptures & Works on Paper, Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1992 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1991 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1989 Irving Sculpture Gallery, Sydney, NSW 1989 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1987 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1985 Christine Abrahams Gallery, Melbourne 1983 Rosies Gallery, Albert Park, Victoria 1981 Blackwood Street Gallery, Meat Market Craft Centre
AWARDS & GRANTS 2005 Highly Commended Award, The Helen Lempriere National Sculpture Award, Werribee Park, Vic 1996 ‘Ophelia’, Southgate - chosen to become the face of Melbourne by Melbourne Convention & Marketing Bureau 1996 Atom Award for ‘Angel’ (see Electronic Media section) 1994 Golden Threads Award, Australian Wool Board, Sydney 1993 Sidney Myer, Australia Day Ceramic Award, Shepparton Art Gallery 1990 Gold Prize, ‘Double Figure’, Japan Ass'n for International Garden & Greenery Exposition, Osaka Expo ‘90 1989 Special Projects Grant, Visual Arts/Craft Board, Australia Council 1988 The Myer Foundation; The Art Foundation, NGV; The Readymix Group 1987 Assistant’s Grant, Craft Board, Australia Council 1985 Crafts Board, Australia Council Grant to work and research in France 1984 Artist in Residence, Narre Warren North Primary 1984 Arts & Crafts Society of Victoria’s 5th Annual Award, Joint Winner 1982 Artist in Residence, Croydon Community School 1981 Professional Development Grant, Crafts Board, Australia Council
COMMISSIONS 2006 ‘The Big Men Fly’, Melbourne Cricket Club, Sculpture Commission for Melbourne Cricket Ground 2005 Shortlisted for the Helen Lempriere Sculpture Award 2002 Power of the Community, Beauty Park, Frankston VIC 2001 ‘The Spirit of Nilumbik’, Eltham Town Square, Shire of Nilumik. 2001 ‘The Spirit of Enquiry’, Australian National University, Canberra 1997 ‘Face Maze’, Bourke Street Mall, Melbourne 1995 ‘Family’, Highpoint Project, ceramic tiled sculpture/fountains 1992 Australian Ballet international tour, promotional material design 1992 ‘Ophelia’, Southgate Project, Melbourne 1991 Designs for merchandise, The Gallery Shop, NGV 1991 ‘Mermaid’, mural fountain, private commission, Melbourne 1990 ‘Double Figure’, Melbourne City Council for International Garden & Greenery Exposition, Osaka, Japan 1989 Margaret Murphy Memorial Mural, Shepparton, Victoria 1987 Fitzroy Nursery, iron entrance gates, Brunswick St. Fitzroy, Victoria 1987-89 ‘Angel’, Bicentennial Sculpture, National Gallery of Victoria Numerous Private Commissions
COLLECTIONS Aichi Arts Centre, Aichi Prefecture, Japan Art Gallery of Western Australia Artbank Australian National Gallery, Canberra Ballarat Fine Art Gallery Box Hill College of T.A.F.E. Collection Council of Adult Education Collection Diners Club International Geelong Art Gallery Melbourne Cricket Club Melbourne University Collection Metricon Homes National Australia Bank National Gallery of Australia, Canberra National Gallery of Victoria Osaka Sculpture Park, Japan Queensland Art Gallery Queensland University of Technology Shepparton Art Gallery Southgate Collection, Melbourne University of New South Wales University of Southern Queensland Victorian Ceramic Group Collection Victorian State Craft Collection Visy Collection, Melbourne Numerous Private Collections in Australia and Overseas.