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Jim Conway
, 2006

by Greg Warburton

synthetic polymer paint and charcoal on paper laid on board (frame: 139.0 cm x 109.0 cm)

Jim Conway, harmonica player, composer and music producer, began his career with the frenetic jug outfit, the Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band, in the 1970s. Captain Matchbox was fronted by Conway’s brother, Mic (later the founder of Circus Oz). Jim played harmonica and kazoo and sang with the band on releases such as the definitive album Wangaratta Wahine (1974). The siblings played together in the Conway Brothers’ Hiccups Band from 1984 to 1988. That year Jim joined the Backsliders, who toured Australia for many years and released a number of critically–acclaimed albums. In 2006 he left the Backsliders to focus on Jim Conway’s Big Wheel. Director of the Balmain Acoustica music festival since 2005, Conway is also a session musician in demand, working across blues, jazz and country styles. He has composed, produced and recorded music for many film and radio projects; a documentary about his music and his life with multiple sclerosis was made in 1999.

Artist Greg Warburton has worked for many years for organisations assisting people with disabilities. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis often worsen in hot weather, and sitting in Warburton’s hot studio, Conway closed his eyes, as he often does while performing.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2009
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
Accession number: 2009.53