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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.

Paul Kelly, 2007

Martin Philbey

type C photograph on paper (frame: 105.0 cm x 130.0 cm depth 2.0 cm)

Paul Kelly AO (b. 1955), singer, songwriter and producer, grew up in Adelaide and made his performing debut 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 double album Gossip was one of the biggest Australian records of the year. The band made Under the Sun (1987) before touring the US 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 many of his songs refer to specific Australian people and places. Though he has written most of his long and poetic songlist alone, over the course of his nineteen albums has also collaborated brilliantly, particularly with indigenous performers such as Kev Carmody, Christine Anu and Yothu Yindi. His self-described 'mongrel memoir', How to Make Gravy, was released in 2010.

Kelly has written many songs about Melbourne, where Martin Philbey photographed him at Flinders Street Station.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2008
© Martin Philbey

Accession number: 2008.51

Currently on display: Gallery Six (Tim Fairfax Gallery)

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National Photographic Portrait Prize 2007 Finalist

Artist and subject

Martin Philbey (age 45 in 2007)

Paul Kelly AO (age 52 in 2007)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Paul Kelly 30.11.1980 by Liz Reed
Paul Kelly 30.11.1980 by Liz Reed
Paul Kelly 30.11.1980 by Liz Reed
Paul Kelly 30.11.1980 by Liz Reed

Pop poet

Magazine article by Dr Anne Sanders, 2013

Dr Anne Sanders previews the works in the new focus exhibition Paul Kelly and The Portraits.

Paul Grabowsky, 2009 Martin Philbey
Paul Grabowsky, 2009 Martin Philbey
Paul Grabowsky, 2009 Martin Philbey
Paul Grabowsky, 2009 Martin Philbey

Feel the music

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2010

Dr Christopher Chapman discusses the portrait of Australian composer Paul Grabowsky by photographer Martin Philbey.

Paul Kelly, 2004 Jon Campbell
Paul Kelly, 2004 Jon Campbell
Paul Kelly, 2004 Jon Campbell
Paul Kelly, 2004 Jon Campbell

Before Too Long

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

The story behind the creation of the portrait of singer-songwriter Paul Kelly by the artist Jon Campbell.

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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.