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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Fred Hollows, 1993

Kerrie Lester

oil and hand-stitching on canvas (overall (irregular): 256.5 cm x 134.0 cm)

Professor Fred Hollows AC (1929–1993), ophthalmologist, made his way to Australia from New Zealand, where he had trained as a doctor and become a communist. Completing his specialist training in England and Wales, in 1965 he began work as an associate professor of ophthalmology at the University of New South Wales. Soon, he began investigating eye disease in Aboriginal communities. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he worked to raise public awareness of ill–health prevailing amongst Indigenous people, while pioneering treatments of trachoma and other eye diseases that halved the incidence of curable blindness in Aboriginal populations in more than 450 outback communities. He also established successful eye treatment schemes overseas, notably in Nepal and Eritrea. The gruff doctor was Australian of the Year in 1990 and was given a State funeral following his death from cancer three years later. The Fred Hollows Foundation continues his work, spearheaded by his widow, Gabi Hollows, who is a designated Living National Treasure in her own right. Sydney-born painter Kerrie Lester (1953-2016) was one of the first artists commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery, and her painting of athlete Cathy Freeman was among the first fifty works acquired for the Gallery’s collection. In 1999, Lester gifted a further three works to the Gallery: her portrait of film producer Margaret Fink, a finalist in the 1989 Portia Geach Memorial Award; her portrait of jazz performer James Morrison, an Archibald finalist in 1996; and this painting of Hollows, which also featured in the Archibald Prize exhibition.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Estate of Kerrie Lester

Accession number: 1999.46a-b

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Kerrie Lester (age 40 in 1993)

Professor Fred Hollows AC (age 64 in 1993)

Donated by

Kerrie Lester (2 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.