Community EngagementMaroondahUrban Sustainability

Book Launch – "A Quiet Painter" by Shirley Jones

By June 16, 20094 Comments

Shirley Jones is a local Ringwood East resident, historian and artist who has published several books about art and history. This evening Shirley launched her latest work entitled a ‘Quiet Painter’, a biography on the life of James Alfred Turner, an early Croydon resident and renowned painter.

James Alfred Turner was born in 1850 and migrated to Australia from Yorkshire in the United Kingdom when he was 22, with his brother Charles who was 23 at the time. At this time James was already a dedicated art student and quickly became an artist seeking commissions.

The rail line through to Lilydale was completed in 1882 and made the townships along the rail corridor, such as Croydon much more accessible for people in Melbourne. James had already visited the Croydon and Kilsyth area from the mid 1870s and purchased a property opposite the intersection of Colchester Road and Mount Dandenong Road in Kilsyth.

The 20 acres he purchased had a small dwelling surrounded by bush and natural bush landscapes were a prominent feature of James’ paintings.

James was a prolific painter and regularly exhibited his works. In 1903 James’ rural landscapes were re-produced for postcards and became extremely popular, resulting in reproductions well into the 1930s.

Throughout his 36 years in Australia, James produced at least 600 paintings until he suffered from a heart attack on the 15th of April 1908. James’ wifeMary Ann passed away on the 10th of October 1950 at the age of 87.

While James’ artwork fell into obscurity shortly after his death, interest in his works was renewed in recent years and the JA Turner Artist Trail in Croydon, as well as the JA Turner Room in the Maroondah Art Gallery at Federation Estate bear his name.

Shirley’s book a ‘Quiet Painter’ encapsulates the life of James Alfred Turner and the significance of this early colonial painter. Copies of the book are available for purchase through either the Ringwood or Croydon Historical Societies.

Alex Makin

Alex Makin

Alex Makin is a councillor for the Mullum Ward in the City of Maroondah. Alex has been a councillor since 2005, representing ratepayers, businesses, community groups and residents. I aim to continue making a difference and welcome any thoughts you may have in regard to life, community and business in Maroondah. Phone: (03) 9870 8202 or 0408 311 645 Email:


  • Mr Jeremy Fisher says:

    Please could you help me identify a picture by J.A.Turner that my mother has,it shows a man standing by a wooden fence offering food to a white bird who is sitting on the fence.

    There is a wooden house behind the fence and it is surrounded by trees.The man has put a rolled up bag or bed with a billy can attached to it on the ground in front of the fence.Please can you help with a title and any other information as my mother doesn’t know where the picture came from,only that she always has known it.


  • Bert Vanderwoerd says:


    Just had lunch with my mom who showed me a print rolled in a tube which looks to be fairly old but also in fairly good shape. My dad, who passed on some time ago, was an art dealer and picture framer.

    The paper is about 22 x 16 inches (it is not here and I didn’t really measure it) brightly coloured print. I have not looked at it yet under a magifying glass but thought I would investigate on the internet first.

    On it is written: “The Homestead Saved, an incident of the Great Gippsland Fire of 1898” as title, published by “Globe Engraving Co. Melb”, “Painted by the late J.A. Turner” and reproduced “courtesy of Henry F. Young of Young and Jackson” “Supplement to THE AUTRALASIAN” “Reproduced by Osboldstone & Co. Printers, Melbourne” “Sat 19th December, 1908”

    Is this valuable or of interest?

    Bert Vanderwoerd

  • Alex Makin says:


    Thank you for visiting my website and for describing the print. It does sound like it will be of interest, so I have forwarded your comments through to Russ Haines, the President of the Ringwood Historical Society, so that they can contact you directly.

    Please contact me on 0408 311 645 or email if I can be of further assistance.



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