Clarice Beckett found beauty in the dark hours of night. Responding to a range of light sources – moon, star, car or electric light – she often shows the influence of Whistler’s restrained and moody atmospherics.
Applying calligraphic notations of colour and contrasting reflected light against a skin of shadows, she animated her scenes. The artist sometimes weighted her glowing elements along the extreme upper edge of her compositions; for example, the diminutive, almost lost, moon disc in Nocturne and the township in Lights, St Kilda, all the while maintaining a delicately tuned pictorial balance. In Lights, St Kilda the subject itself is barely visible; a suburb hangs in the heavens. Here, Clarice alludes to two notions of consciousness: the present and the hidden, with one about to be eclipsed by the other.