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Barry Jones
, 1998

by Tristan Humphries

digital print on watercolour paper (sheet: 95.4 cm x 76.8 cm)

Barry Jones AO (b. 1932) is a politician, lawyer and writer. He was educated at the University of Melbourne and worked as a public servant and high school teacher before rising to fame as Australia's Quiz champion from 1960 to 1968. He became the country's first talk-back radio host, then lectured in History at La Trobe University before becoming a State Labor MP in 1972. He entered federal parliament in 1977 as the member for Lalor; between 1983 and 1990 he held the portfolios of Science, Prices and Consumer Affairs, Small Business and Customs. He was National President of the Australian Labor Party from 1992 to 2000, and Deputy Chairman of the Constitutional Convention in 1998. Jones has written a number of influential books, of which the best known are Sleepers, Wake!: Technology and the Future of Work, and the Dictionary of World Biography.

This work is one in a series of 'collaborative pictures' of prominent Australians by Tristan Humphries, inspired by the Surrealist game of cadavres exquis. Humphries asked each of his sitters to bring a shoebox of their special things to the sittings; after meeting the artist, Jones was not disposed to bring much, and in this case, it was Humphries, not Jones, who selected items included in the finished work. The lines of verse are from the first chorus of The Rock, by TS Eliot (1934); the quotation is from the prologue to Shakespeare's Henry V; the claw in the top right corner is a c. 800 BC ceremonial bronze axe head from Luristan (now Iran) from Jones' s collection. Jones has said that he has 'no idea' why he is portrayed with a third eye. The absence of rapport between Humphries and Jones is reflected in the title the artist gave the portrait: 'Veil'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2000
Accession number: 2000.34