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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.

Ian Kiernan

1996
Kate Gollings

gelatin silver photograph, selenium toned on paper (sheet: 60.5 cm x 50.3 cm, image: 47.9 cm x 47.8 cm)

Ian Kiernan AO (1940-2018) was Chairman of Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World. He started work as a labourer and became a builder, in due course making a fortune in property investments. His business empire collapsed in 1974; divorce and years of legal battles ensued. In 1986-7 he participated in a nine-month yacht race, and was sickened by the amount of rubbish he saw drifting on the fabled Sargasso Sea. In 1989 Kiernan and his friend Kim McKay AO instigated the first clean-up event, around Sydney Harbour. In 1990 the idea was expanded across the country with the first Clean Up Australia Day, in which nearly 300 000 people participated; soon, there were clean-ups across the globe. In 1993 Kiernan won the United Nations Global 500 award for the environment; he was Australian of the Year in 1994; and in 1998 he won the UN Environment Program’s Sasakawa Environment Award. Kiernan defended the simplicity of his environmental activism, saying that it was better than sitting in a ‘dusty office in a tie-dyed t-shirt . . . thinking that the world is going to collapse tomorrow’. Over twenty-five years, the organisation estimates that Australians have collected more than 288 650 tonnes of rubbish on Clean Up days.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2001
© Estate of Kate Gollings

Artist and subject

Kate Gollings (age 53 in 1996)

Ian Kiernan AO (age 56 in 1996)

Subject professions

Activism

Supported by

Marilyn Darling AC (30 portraits supported)

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.

Uncommon Australians

The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling

Previous exhibition, 2015

This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

Australian of the Year

Inspiring a Nation

Previous exhibition, 2010

The Australian of the Year Awards have often provoked controversy about who is selected and whether their achievements are remarkable.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency