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Bee Miles
, 1976

by Roderick Shaw

charcoal on paper (frame: 122.5 cm x 88.0 cm depth 3.5 cm, sheet: 68.0 cm x 102.0 cm)

Beatrice (Bee) Miles (1902-1973) ranks alongside the 'Eternity man' as one of Sydney's best-remembered street identities. Educated at a private girls' school and the University of Sydney, from the age of 38 she had no fixed address and was notable for her anarchic conduct in public places, although she did carry a board advertising her willingness to stand and recite Shakespeare for a fee. She loved tram and taxi travel, though she rarely paid, and often hurled herself at vehicles refusing to carry her. As a consequence, she was routinely assaulted by cab drivers. She lived by a number of well-documented maxims, and remained a wayward wit into her impoverished and infirm old age.

Roderick Shaw was a Sydney social-realist painter and printer of quality books. After the war he helped to end the censorship of four letter words in Australia, by publishing the banned report of the trial of Penguin books over D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Shaw was a foundation member of Artists for Democracy and of Artists Against Nuclear War.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Brian Griffin 2000
Accession number: 2000.12