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Russell Drysdale and Peter Sculthorpe, Tallow Beach, New South Wales
, 1969 (printed 2000)

by David Moore

gelatin silver photograph

Sir Russell Drysdale AC (1912-1981), painter, developed eye trouble in 1929, and had to leave boarding school for the first of many eye treatments which left him fearful of total blindness. He went to art school in 1935. In 1938 he took his family to Europe, and studied art in London and Paris, sharing a studio there with Peter Purves Smith, with whom he had gone to school. Having returned to Australia, over the course of the 1940s he produced a series of melancholy, foreboding works - including The Rabbiters, West Wyalong, The Drover's Wife, Sofala and The Cricketers - which not only laid down the terms of reference for most subsequent depictions of the landscape, but came to be seen as key representations of the Australian spiritual condition. In 1962 Drysdale's son took his own life; Drysdale's wife, inconsolable, did the same in 1963. In 1964 Drysdale and his second wife, Maisie, a lifelong friend, built a house in the Bouddi National Park, not far from Tallow Beach. A period of stability followed, and Drysdale was able to produce a further body of significant work over the next fifteen years.

Peter Sculthorpe AO OBE (1929–2014), composer, was born in Launceston and began music lessons around age seven, writing his first compositions by torchlight under the bedclothes at night. He studied at the University of Melbourne from age sixteen. Following a performance of his Sonatina for piano in Germany in 1955, he won a scholarship to Wadham College, Oxford. In 1966, Sculthorpe gained a Harkness Fellowship to study in the USA and later became composer-in-residence at Yale University. Sculthorpe stated in 1998 that, by being overseas, he ‘gained a perspective on what I had left behind at home’; consequently, many of his works explore aspects of Australian landscape, history and Indigenous culture, such as Irkanda IV (1961), Sun Music I and Sun Music III (1965 & 1967), Port Essington (1977) and Kakadu (1988). Others were influenced by Asian traditions and the music of the Pacific. In the late 1960s, Sculthorpe was appointed Reader in Music at the University of Sydney, and he later held a personal chair as its Professor in Musical Composition. An OBE and member of the Order of Australia, Sculthorpe counted being named a National Living Treasure as the most significant of his many honours and awards.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
The series David Moore: From Face to Face was acquired by gift of the artist and financial assistance from Timothy Fairfax AC and L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2001
Accession number: 2001.140