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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.

Bill May, 1976

Max Loudon

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.4 cm, image: 40.5 cm x 30.4 cm)

Bill May (1915-1993), luthier, completed an apprenticeship in cabinetmaking and taught woodwork before founding Mayton Stringed Instruments and Repairs in the early 1940s. His brother Reg soon joined him as a full time guitar maker, and the pair established the Maton Musical Instruments Company in 1946. Three years later they opened their first factory in Canterbury, Melbourne, where over the ensuing forty years they were to make more than 300 models of guitar and establish an international reputation. They expanded to Bayswater in 1989 and Box Hill in 2001. Maton Guitars, now directed by May's daughter Linda Kitchen, is still an entirely Australian-owned company. Having established Maton as Australia's longest running and most successful guitar manufacturer, and pioneering the use of many Australian wood species in guitar construction, Bill May is regarded by many Australian luthiers as the founding father of their industry.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2005
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2005.57

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Max Loudon

Bill May (age 61 in 1976)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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.