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Self portrait
, 1976 (printed 2005)

by David Malin

type C photograph (sheet: 60.7 x 50.6 cm, image: 50.1 x 40.6 cm)

David Malin (b. 1941) is the world’s pre-eminent astronomical photographer. After graduating from technical college in Bury, Lancashire, Malin began his career as an assistant in a pesticide laboratory. Within a decade he was head of the electron microscopy laboratory of the research department of Ciba-Geigy. He moved to Australia in 1975 and joined the Anglo-Australian Observatory in NSW; he was to retire from the AAO as a principal research scientist in 2001. Malin won his first astronomical awards in 1985, when he took out the Henri Chretien Award of the American Astronomical Society and the Jackson-Gwilt Medal and Prize of the Royal Astronomical Society. He has since received many photographic awards including the Rodman Medal of the Royal Photographic Society and the Progress Medal of the Photographic Society of America. The Malin Award is the premier Australian astrophotography competition. Author of over 250 scientific papers and essays and recipient of honorary doctorates from the University of Sydney and RMIT University, he has two patents to his name. He has held many solo photographic exhibitions internationally, and a documentary about Malin’s work, The Man Who Colours Stars, was released in 1997. Since 1996 Malin has been Adjunct Professor of Scientific Photography at RMIT University.

In this self-portrait, Malin is in the prime focus cage of the Anglo-Australian Observatory telescope. There, he has spent many hours taking astronomical photographs, some of which require exposure times of 60 to 90 minutes to reveal the faintest objects in the sky.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2005
Accession number: 2005.118