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Robert Drewe (in the swell), 2006

Nicholas Harding

oil on canvas (frame: 140.4 cm x 125.0 cm, support: 138.0 cm x 123.0 cm)

Robert Drewe (b. 1943), writer, grew up in Perth, where he worked as a junior reporter with the West Australian from 1961 to 1964. Gaining a job with the Age, he moved to Melbourne; he was literary editor at the Australian before he began writing fiction, and he has written intermittently for the Bulletin, the Age and the Sydney Morning Herald since. His first novel, The Savage Crows, was published in 1975. He won Walkley awards for his journalism in 1976 and 1982. His short story collection The Bay of Contented Men (1989) won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. Three more novels followed before The Drowner (1997) which won a host of major awards. The Shark Net, a blend of autobiography and fiction, won the WA Premier’s Prize for Non-Fiction and the Courier-Mail Book of the Year in 2000, was adapted for ABC and BBC television in 2003, and is now in widespread use on school curricula. Drewe’s recent volumes include the novel Grace (2005); Montebello (2012), a sequel to The Shark Net; The Local Wildlife (2013), a collection of stories based in the area around Byron Bay in northern New South Wales; and the novel Whipbird (2017).

Throughout his meetings with Harding, which took place around Byron Bay, Drewe’s demeanour was hearty and affable. Privately, it was a time of upheaval and distress for the author, who was surprised when he saw the anguished expression the artist caught in a moment when he disengaged.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2010

Accession number: 2010.25

Currently on display: Gallery Six (Tim Fairfax Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Nicholas Harding (age 50 in 2006)

Robert Drewe (age 63 in 2006)

Subject professions

Media and communications


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