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Ray Crooke

1922 – 2015

Ray Crooke AM grew up in Melbourne, where after army service in WA, North Queensland and Borneo, he trained at Swinburne Tech from 1946 to 1948. Having worked for two years on Thursday Island for the Diocese of Carpentaria, he began painting scenes of island life. Comparisons with Gauguin are inevitable, though Crooke often painted people in dim interiors against a window giving onto bright light. A long-time resident of Cairns, he travelled extensively in northern Australia and painted some remarkably evocative landscapes, such as Chillagoe 1962, Landscape with rocks in foreground 1967 and Ant Hill Country, Laura 1969, all in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia. In 1966 he served as an official war artist in Vietnam. He won the Archibald Prize in 1969 for a portrait of a close friend, the writer George Johnson. In the mid-1990s he donated his collection of works by Drysdale, Friend, Olley and Boyd to Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville, which mounted North of Capricorn, a major retrospective of his work that toured in 1998-1999. Crooke is represented in all major Australian galleries and his work remains popular amongst collectors.

Updated 2018