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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.

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
© Estate of Harold Thornton

Accession number: 2009.51

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Harold Thornton (age 68 in 1983)

Bob Brown (age 39 in 1983)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone
Olegas Truchanas, 1971 Ralph Hope-Johnstone

Giving a dam

True south #1

About Face article

22 May 2020

Ensconced and meditative in crisp Tasmania, Joanna Gilmour pays tribute to passionate green advocate and photographer Olegas Truchanas.

Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes

Bob Brown

In defence of the 'leech ridden ditch'

Portrait story

Bob Brown discusses the events that occurred during the Franklin River campaign as depicted in his portrait by Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton.

Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton

Where the wild things are

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2009

Michael Desmond explores the complex portrait of Dr Bob Brown by Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton.

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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.