Skip to main content

Robert, Lindy, Grant
, 1981

by 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