In 1968 Garry Shead came across an edition of the letters D.H. Lawrence had written from Australia in 1922. "This first encounter with Lawrence grew into an obsession, so that Garry Shead not only eventually read everything which Lawrence had ever written, but also later studied and re-interpreted many of Lawrence's paintings, and re-traced the author's footsteps to Thirroul, on the south coast near Sydney, where Lawrence lived with his wife for a couple of months in 1922 and wrote the novel Kangaroo."
"In D.H. Lawrence, Garry Shead found not so much a source of inspiration, as a spiritual affinity. When Lawrence described the Australian bush as weird, empty and untrodden, he seemed to express the same feelings that the painter had experienced. There was also a common perception of mysticism, a sense of spiritual awareness, as well as a similar attitude to the celebration of sexuality." (Sasha Grishin, Garry Shead: the D.H. Lawrence Paintings, Gordon and Breach Arts international, 1993, p 7)
In 1992, 70 years after Lawrence was in Australia, Garry Shead produced a series of 50 oil paintings know as the D.H. Lawrence paintings. The artist was so deeply immersed in the Lawrence paintings as a form of self-exploration and expression that he completed the whole series within six months. He felt that "Kangaroo is the shadow of one's personality for want of another monster. The side to be reconciled with the sense of impulse - political, social, child, female, male, etc." (Sasha Grishin, Garry Shead and the Erotic Muse, Craftsman House, Sydney, 2001, p111)
The Writer (Frieda) depicts Lawrence and his wife in the cottage bungalow called Wyewurk, which they rented at Thirroul in 1922. Typically Frieda looks out at the viewer and the whole scene has an almost mysterious, staged quality about it. The painting achieves a wonderful contrast between the unmistakably intense Australian heat and light outside and the cool, darkened interior. Here the writer seems to hide with his 'shadow personality' and his work from the sensory assault of the Australian experience.