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Face the Music

Monday 15 August until Sunday 13 November 2005

Australia has become recognised for the range and talent of its musicians, composers, conductors and celebrities in general associated with the music industry.

Paul Kelly, 2004 by Jon Campbell
Paul Kelly, 2004 by Jon Campbell

The National Portrait Gallery’s current exhibition, Face the Music, provides insights into some of these key individuals and groups who have impacted on Australian music over the past four decades. Drawn from the Gallery’s permanent collection, the exhibition explores the remarkable talents and achievements of these people and their significant contributions on the local and the international music scenes.

Diverse in its outlook, Face the Music includes a range of subjects from the renowned opera diva Dame Joan Sutherland, Johnny O’Keefe, Australia’s first rock ‘n’ roll star of the late 1950s, alto saxophonist Bernie McGann, who is widely regarded as one of the most creative Australian jazz musicians, to songwriter and cabaret performer Peter Allen. More contemporary subjects include Mandaway Yunupingu, lead singer of celebrated Indigenous band Yothu Yindi, and singers Christine Anu and Natalie Imbruglia.

The breath of musical styles, adopted by Australian individuals and collectives is manifest throughout the exhibition. Country music stars including Slim Dusty, Troy Casser-Daly and Kasey Chambers are captured in the photographs of John Elliott. Australia’s best-known composer Peter Sculthorpe is depicted through Eric Smith’s painting and eminent jazz musician Don Burrows is illustrated playing his clarinet in a painting by Barry Walsh. Both Sculthorpe and Burrows have been declared living treasures of Australia. Highlights from Australia’s rock history are also captured including the 1970s band Sherbert, seen here posed naked for POL magazine in a photograph by Lewis Morley, as well as long time TV series Countdown presenter and prominent music critic Ian ‘Molly’ Meldrum with headgear, naturally, in a recent photograph by Robin Sellick.