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Nicholas Paspaley Jnr, 2018

by Andrew Bonneau

Nicholas Paspaley Jnr, 2018 by Andrew Bonneau
Nicholas Paspaley Jnr, 2018 by Andrew Bonneau

Nicholas Paspaley Jnr AC (b. 1948) is chair of the Paspaley Group of Companies, with interests in pearling, aviation, retail, pastoral holdings and commercial properties in Australia and internationally. Paspaley’s family fled the Greek island of Castellorizo during the First World War, settling on the West Australian coast. His father Nicholas began work in the Port Hedland and Broome pearling industry at the age of 14, and had purchased his own pearl lugger by the age of 21. Nicholas Jnr worked and learned alongside his father from a young age. Following studies in economics at Sydney University, he joined the family pearling business, taking the helm of a traditional pearling lugger at the age of 21. In due course, he modernised traditional pearling methods initiated by his father and his father’s Japanese business partners. In particular, he is credited with developing new and sustainable farming methods that revolutionised the global pearl culture industry, and for establishing Paspaley Pearling Company as the producer of the world’s finest pearls. He has been instrumental in the international promotion of Australian natural quality south sea pearls, and is a member of the board of CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation. Today, his son James Paspaley is CEO of Paspaley Pearling Company, which comprises twenty pearl farms dotted along the coastline of North-Western Australia, and accounts for the majority of Australia’s annual pearl production. Pearling now comprises but a fraction of the family’s diverse concerns, but pearls remain at the ‘heart’ of their business. Nicholas Paspaley Jnr was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his services to Australia’s export industry in 1999.

Andrew Bonneau

‘While making this portrait, I had the privilege of spending many hours with Mr Paspaley, painting and talking with him. Mr Paspaley’s many achievements, including revolutionising the pearling industry and building a hugely successful business, all seem to originate from the many years he has spent at sea, pursuing and refining the method of finding the perfect pearl. I have represented him in the ocean on one of his pearling boats at the end of a day’s harvest, presenting a pearl he has selected to the viewer.’

Tasmanian-born Andrew Bonneau (b. 1981) lives and works in Cairns, Queensland. Graduating from the National Art School in 2003, he studied at the Charlie Sheard Studio School and the Julian Ashton Art School before developing his classical drawing and painting technique at the Grand Central Academy of New York, established in 2006 to provide ‘rigorous and thorough education in the classical and traditional arts’. Bonneau’s portraits, studies of the figure and still life paintings express various aspects of the European classical realist tradition. His works have been chosen for exhibition in the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize, the Adelaide Perry Drawing Prize, the Percival Portrait Painting Prize, the Shirley Hannan National Portrait Award and, in 2017, the Archibald Prize. He has thrice been a finalist for the AME Bale Travelling Art Scholarship. Having been awarded the William Fletcher Foundation Rome Residency, he will spend three months of 2019 at the British School in Rome. He has exhibited in group and solo shows in Australia and internationally and his work is held in public and private collections around the world.

Commissioned with funds provided by Ross Adler AC 2018