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Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983

Harold Thornton

oil on canvas (frame: 238.5 cm x 381.0 cm depth 7.0 cm, support: 224.2 cm x 366.5 cm)

Bob Brown (b. 1944), environmentalist, doctor and senator, was the first Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens. Brown studied medicine in Sydney before moving to Tasmania in 1972 to work in Launceston. In 1976, having taken a rafting trip down the Franklin River, he became a founding member of the Wilderness Society. From then until 1983 he led the campaign against proposed dam-works on the Franklin, which was subsequently preserved with a World Heritage Listing. In 1983, he began a decade in the Tasmanian House of Assembly as the Member for Denison. He was elected to the Federal Senate as a member of the Tasmanian Greens in 1996 and later co-founded the Australian Greens, which he guided from a fringe to a mainstream political force before resigning from the leadership in 2012.

With his long white hair, fringed outfits and gaudy hand-painted vehicle, Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton was a common sight around art events in Sydney during the 1970s and 1980s. Disappointed by the local response to his art, he left in due course for the Netherlands. Despite its fanciful elements, this painting provides a remarkably faithful record of events and sites around the Franklin in the early 1980s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of Harold Thornton 2009

Accession number: 2009.51

Currently on display: Gallery Six (Tim Fairfax Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Harold Thornton (age 68 in 1983)

Bob Brown (age 39 in 1983)

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