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John Bell
, c. 1968

by Greg Weight

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 40.4 cm x 50.4 cm, image: 29.6 cm x 43.4 cm)

John Bell (b. 1938), painter and draughtsman, was encouraged to pursue an art career by the artist Donald Friend, for whom Bell had modelled. Bell studied at East Sydney Technical College between 1953 and 1958 and became the toast of the Sydney art scene with the sold-out success of his first solo exhibition, held in 1960. Travels in New Guinea and northern Australia in 1962 inspired an exhibition of new work. But a falling out with his dealer saw Bell remove all of his paintings just before the opening of the anticipated exhibition and he has continued to work outside of the mainstream art market ever since.

Greg Weight opened a photography business in 1968 and later became a member of the Yellow House artist's collective with Martin Sharp, Brett Whiteley, George Gittoes and Peter Kingston. Weight photographed John Bell in his Sydney studio, depicting him next to his recently finished painting of his wife. This photograph of Bell became the first in a series of portraits by Weight of Australian artists. Weight has said that these photographs 'reflect three decades of my curiosity and respect for some of this country's most interesting artists.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2004.85