Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983
oil on canvas (frame: 238.5 x 381.0 x 7.0 cm, support: 224.2 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.
Gift of the Estate of Harold Thornton 2009
Accession number: 2009.51
More about the artist and subject
Magazine article, Portrait 34
Where the wild things are
Michael Desmond explores the complex portrait of Dr Bob Brown by Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton.
Permanent collection catalogue
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.