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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 Grabowsky, 2009

Martin Philbey

type C photograph on paper (frame: 128.0 x 169.0, sheet: 127.0 cm x 160.0 cm)

Paul Grabowsky (b. 1958) was born in New Guinea while his father was working for New Guinea Goldfields. He started studying piano at age five and became interested in jazz while a student at Melbourne's Wesley College. In the 1970s he dropped out of university to play jazz, jamming and working with Melbourne's cabaret artists. In the 1980s he lived in London, Munich and the USA. On returning to Melbourne in 1986, he founded the Paul Grabowsky Trio and began producing scores for film and television. He founded the Melbourne Jazz Co-operative and the Australian Art Orchestra and in the early 1990s, with his band the Groovematics, appeared nightly on Tonight Live with Steve Vizard. Grabowsky has won numerous awards including several ARIAs, and he has made more than twenty-five recordings in Australia and abroad. His film scores include those for Gillian Armstrong's The Last Days of Chez Nous (1991) and Unfolding Florence (2005) and Fred Schepisi's Eye of the Storm (2010). Having overseen the Queensland Music Festival between 2005 and 2007, Grabowsky was appointed Artistic Director of the Adelaide Festival for 2010 and 2012.

Martin Philbey (b. 1962) is a Melbourne-based photographer who has amassed an archive of 100 000 images over his career of twenty years. Specialising in sports and music photography, he has had countless photographs published in magazines such as Rolling Stone and has taken shots for many performers and the music industry. Philbey's entry in the National Photographic Portrait Prize for 2007, a portrait of singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, was acquired for the collection. Philbey said of this portrait of Grabowsky 'I really wanted to capture Paul in his working environment, the space where a thought or an idea becomes something more tangible.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by Patrick Corrigan AM 2009
© Martin Philbey

Accession number: 2009.152

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Martin Philbey (age 47 in 2009)

Paul Grabowsky AO (age 51 in 2009)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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 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.

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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.