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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.

Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground, 2001

eX de Medici

mangrove bark pigment, watercolour and gouache on vellum (frame: 144.0 cm x 199.7 cm, sheet: 113.5 cm x 179.5 cm)

Members of the future Midnight Oil began playing together in Sydney in 1972. After performing as Farm for some time, in 1976 they changed their name to Midnight Oil and began to carve their live career along the northern beaches. From the start, the Oils’ songs aggressively addressed social concerns such as the environment, uranium mining and Aboriginal rights. In 1987 they released their eighth album, Diesel and Dust, which sold more than two million copies world-wide. It included the hit ‘Beds are Burning’, performed provocatively at the close of the 2000 Olympics. Martin Rotsey, Rob Hirst, Peter Garrett, Jim Moginie and Bones Hillman effectively disbanded in 2002, when Garrett became President of the Australian Conservation Foundation. Garrett was the member for the Federal seat of Kingsford Smith from 2004 to 2013, during which period he served as minister for the environment, heritage and the arts and school education, early childhood and youth. Having reunited to play in undimmed form in Canberra and Melbourne in early 2009, the Oils were declared by one reviewer to be ‘the best live band Australia has ever produced, hands down’. Their successful ‘Great Circle’ world tour of 2017 comprised more than 70 shows across five continents.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2001
© eX de Medici

Accession number: 2001.192.1

Currently on display: Gallery Three (Robert Oatley Gallery)

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Artist and subject

eX de Medici (age 42 in 2001)

Peter Garrett (age 48 in 2001)

Rob Hirst (age 46 in 2001)

Jim Moginie

Martin Rotsey

Dwayne Hillman

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984
Sydney city (Patrick White and Tom Uren, Hiroshima Day demonstration), 1984

The activist A-list

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

Dr Sarah Engledow examines a number of figures in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery who were pioneers or substantial supporters of the seminal Australian environmental campaigns of the early 1970s and 1980s.

Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground, 2001 eX de Medici
Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground, 2001 eX de Medici
Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground, 2001 eX de Medici
Nothing's as precious as a hole in the ground, 2001 eX de Medici

Seduce and Destroy

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2001

Magda Keaney explores the symbolism in eX de Medici's portrait of Midnight Oil.

Johnny O'Keefe "A little bit louder now...", 1999 Ivan Durrant
Johnny O'Keefe "A little bit louder now...", 1999 Ivan Durrant
Johnny O'Keefe "A little bit louder now...", 1999 Ivan Durrant
Johnny O'Keefe "A little bit louder now...", 1999 Ivan Durrant

Making Portraits

Five Years of National Portrait Gallery Commissions

Previous exhibition, 2004

The considered matching of artist to subject has produced an amazing collection of unique and original works in the permanent collection of the National Portrait Gallery

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Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.