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Paul Kelly
, 2004

by Jon Campbell

synthetic polymer and enamal paint on canvas (frame: 157.5 cm x 114.0 cm depth 5.5 cm, support: 155.5 cm x 112 cm)

Paul Kelly (b. 1955), singer, songwriter and producer, grew up in Adelaide and first performed in Hobart in 1974. In Melbourne, he and his pub band The Dots made two albums before breaking up in 1982. He recorded Post in Sydney in 1985, but his major break came the following year, by which time his band was known as The Coloured Girls. Their album 'Gossip' was one of the biggest Australian records of 1986. The band made 'Under the Sun' (1987) before touring the USA as Paul Kelly and the Messengers. They disbanded in 1991, and from that point Kelly branched into producing and acting as well as writing and performing. Kelly sings with a marked Australian accent and his songs refer to specific Australian places and people; his song ‘Bradman’ is well–known, and the album Stolen Apples (2007) includes a song about Aboriginal artists Queenie McKenzie and Rover Thomas. Though he has written most of his long and poetic song list alone, he has also collaborated brilliantly, particularly with Indigenous performers including Archie Roach, Yothu Yindi and Kev Carmody, with whom he co-wrote the protest song ‘From Little Things, Big Things Grow’, relating the story of the Gurindji people’s fight for land rights in the 1960s and 70s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2004
Accession number: 2004.19