Ian Fairweather was born in Scotland in 1891. During World War I he was captured by the Germans in France at the Battle of Mons and spent the next four years in prisoner-of-war camps. After the war he studied art in the Netherlands, London and Munich. In 1918, he studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague, and then privately with van Mastenbroek. In 1921 he attended the School of Oriental Studies studying Japanese and between 1920 and 1924 he attended the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London. From this time on he travelled extensively, visiting Canada, Shanghai, Bali, India, Colombo, and Australia. After this he settled largely in Australia. Fairweather took the theme of people as his recurring subject, sourcing inspiration from southeast Asian cultures, cubism, abstraction and Aboriginal art, to produce layered calligraphic compositions, often verging on the abstract. His works are represented in the National Gallery of Australia, all Australian state galleries, many regional and public galleries, the Tate Gallery, London, Leicester Art Gallery, and Ulster Museum, Belfast.