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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.

Alexander Maurice Ramsay, 1978

Robert Hannaford

oil on composition board (frame: 96.5 cm x 74.5 cm, support: 75.5 cm x 53.5 cm)

Alexander Ramsay CBE (1914-1978), public servant, trained and worked as a teacher before gaining his degree at the University of Adelaide in 1941. Not long after, he was a founder of a movement called Common Cause, encouraging community cooperation to achieve not only victory in war, but postwar equality of opportunity and advantage. Ramsay was the public face of the movement until 1949; it attracted thousands of members and achieved community progress. Meanwhile, in 1943, Ramsay was appointed to the South Australian Housing Trust, with which he was to remain all his life. General manager of the Trust from 1949, dubbed South Australia's 'Mr Housing', he met urgent postwar housing needs and later oversaw the establishment of Elizabeth, a whole new town on Adelaide's northern fringe. In the 1950s he elected to stay in South Australia rather than move to Canberra to direct the NCDC. He wrote a key article on 'The Public Service as Vocation' in 1969. Having served three other state premiers, under Don Dunstan he took on additional responsibilities for accommodating the especially needy and vulnerable. He was involved with a great many beneficent bodies including the ABC, the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, the Boy Scouts, Meal on Wheels and the YMCA, was a pioneer of asthma research bodies in South Australia and was Commodore of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Janet, Andrew, Kathryn and Eleanor Ramsay, daughters and son of Alexander Maurice Ramsay and Amy Jane Ramsay
© Robert Hannaford/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2010.119

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Robert Hannaford (age 34 in 1978)

Alexander Ramsay (age 64 in 1978)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

Lowitja O'Donoghue, 2006 Robert Hannaford
Lowitja O'Donoghue, 2006 Robert Hannaford
Lowitja O'Donoghue, 2006 Robert Hannaford
Lowitja O'Donoghue, 2006 Robert Hannaford

Anatomist's eye

Magazine article by Diana Warnes, 2016

Robert Hannaford has completed around 400 portraits over the span of his career. 

Lowitja O'Donoghue by Robert Hannaford video: 4 minutes and 5 seconds
Lowitja O'Donoghue by Robert Hannaford video: 4 minutes and 5 seconds
Lowitja O'Donoghue by Robert Hannaford video: 4 minutes and 5 seconds
Lowitja O'Donoghue by Robert Hannaford video: 4 minutes and 5 seconds

Lowitja O'Donoghue and Robert Hannaford

'I'm going to wear everything red, black, and yellow'

Portrait story

Lowitja O'Donoghue discusses her life and portrait by Robert Hannaford.

Tim Flannery by Robert Hannaford video: 3 minutes and 21 seconds
Tim Flannery by Robert Hannaford video: 3 minutes and 21 seconds
Tim Flannery by Robert Hannaford video: 3 minutes and 21 seconds
Tim Flannery by Robert Hannaford video: 3 minutes and 21 seconds

Tim Flannery by Robert Hannaford

'The space around'

Portrait story

Tim Flannery and artist Robert Hannaford discuss the creation of Tim's portrait.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.