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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.

Robert, Lindy, Grant, 1981

Jenny Watson

oil on canvas board (triptych) (each: 30.5 cm x 22.7 cm)

The Go Betweens - Robert Foster and the late Grant McLennan - formed in Brisbane in 1977. Partly inspired by the British punk rock explosion, McLennan and Forster nonetheless attempted a blend of Dylan-like lyrics and Monkees-style simplicity, which soon flowered into a melancholy melodiousness and genuine poetic lyricism. With Lindy Morrison on drums they recorded six albums including Before Hollywood (1983), Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express (1986) and Tallulah (1987). From 1979 the band was based in the UK, where they achieved rapturous critical acclaim but scant commercial success; they split in 1989. In 1997, when they reunited for a series of showcase gigs in the UK, London's Sunday Times critic described The Go-Betweens' output as 'six of the greatest albums of all time'. After re-forming the band they released three albums. Oceans Apart (2005) earned the Go Betweens their first ARIA, for Best Adult Contemporary Album of 2005.

Melbourne artist Jenny Watson taught in various art institutions through the 1970s and 80s, and Nick Cave was briefly a student of hers at the Caulfield Institute of Technology. She attended some early performances of The Boys Next Door, and went on to witness the development of the Melbourne punk scene centred around the Tiger Lounge in Richmond and the Crystal Ballroom in St Kilda. The Crystal Ballroom, Watson has said, was the place 'where both the best art and the best music were happening - known only to a minute audience with no power, no money and no influence. But . . . all of the references go back to those places.' In 1977 she made a series of portraits of the Boys Next Door, and a number of self-portraits playing around the theme of the Tiger Lounge. Four years later she painted these three portraits of The Go-Betweens for the cover of the band's first album, Send Me a Lullaby.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2002

Accession number: 2002.25.a-c

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jenny Watson (age 30 in 1981)

Lindy Morrison (age 30 in 1981)

Grant McLennan (age 23 in 1981)

Robert Forster (age 24 in 1981)

The Go-Betweens

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Performing arts

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The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Robert, Lindy, Grant, 1981 Jenny Watson
Robert, Lindy, Grant, 1981 Jenny Watson
Robert, Lindy, Grant, 1981 Jenny Watson
Robert, Lindy, Grant, 1981 Jenny Watson

Face the music

Magazine article by Christine Clark, 2005

Drawn from the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Face the Music explores the remarkable talents and achievements of Australian musicians, composers, conductors and celebrities associated with the music industry.

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The National Portrait Gallery
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Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.