Skip to main content

Kate Hattam, 1956

Clifton Pugh

oil on board (frame: 135.5 cm x 107.0 cm, support: 122.0 cm x 91.0 cm)

Katherine ‘Kate’ Hattam (1923–2004) was a style-setter, collector and arts patron and an influential figure in the Melbourne art scene from the 1950s on. London-born, she served with the Women’s Royal Air Force during World War II, meeting her future husband Hal Hattam, a Scottish-born Australian obstetrician and artist, while he was stationed in England with the AIF. She started her career in the advertising department of Harrods before returning with Hal to Melbourne, where she found marketing work with Georges, then the city’s most fashionable department store. Balancing work with the raising of her first three children, she quickly rose to the position of advertising manager and in this capacity she is said to have been the highest-paid woman in Australia in the 1950s. Kate’s professional life was closely linked with the personal friendships she and Hal established with a group of emerging artists whose careers they encouraged and supported. With Kate’s persuasion, artists such as John Perceval, Arthur Boyd and Leonard French were commissioned to design wrapping paper and cards for Georges, and Kate is believed to have been influential in securing fair rates of payment for artists engaged in commercial work. The Hattams also built a fine art collection which included works by John Brack, Clifton Pugh, Fred Williams, Sid Nolan and others who came to play a substantial role in Australian art in the twentieth century.

Clifton Pugh AO (1924–1990) took drawing classes at Swinburne Technical College and Adelaide’s Australian School of Arts and Crafts before being called up for military service in 1943. After the war, he studied painting under Sir William Dargie at the National Gallery School, during the same period acquiring a fifteen-acre bush plot about forty kilometers from Melbourne, which he named ‘Dunmoochin’. He held his first solo show in Melbourne in 1957. Notable for his landscape painting, Pugh became equally well-known as a portraitist, winning the Archibald Prizes for 1965, 1971 and 1972. Chairman of the Victorian Labor Party’s arts advisory committee, Pugh played an important role in the development of the ALP’s arts policy in the early 1970s, and served on the Australia Council in 1973–74. In 1989, a year before his death, he established the Dunmoochin Foundation, which continues to provide residential retreats for those working in the arts and environmentalism.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006

Accession number: 2006.56

Currently on display: Gallery Five (John Schaeffer Gallery)

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Clifton Pugh (age 32 in 1956)

Kate Hattam (age 33 in 1956)

Subject professions

Media and communications

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.