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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 former politician, is an environmental campaigner and the first Parliamentary Leader of the Australian Greens. Brown studied medicine at Sydney University before moving to Tasmania, where he worked as a general practitioner 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. That year he established the Bob Brown Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation supporting environmental causes.

Harold Thornton travelled to Tasmania and joined Brown and the 6000 protestors blocking the construction of the Franklin dam in December 1982. Thornton painted this portrait of Brown while he was in the wilderness campsite and in his Hobart and Sydney studios. Despite its fanciful elements, this painting provides a remarkably faithful record of events in the early 1908s.

Gift of the Estate of Harold Thornton 2009
© Estate of Harold Thornton

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Harold Thornton (age 68 in 1983)

Bob Brown (age 39 in 1983)

Donated by

Harry 'The Kangaroo' Thornton Estate (1 portrait)

Related information

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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.

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Bob Brown discusses the events that occurred during the Franklin River campaign as depicted in his portrait 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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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