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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.

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
© Nicholas Harding

Accession number: 2010.25

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Nicholas Harding (age 50 in 2006)

Robert Drewe (age 63 in 2006)

Subject professions

Media and communications

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.

David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding

Through thick and thin

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2017

Sarah Engledow likes the manifold mediums of Nicholas Harding’s portraiture.

Rehearsing Godot (Mullins as Lucky) 4.11.2013 by Nicholas Harding
Rehearsing Godot (Mullins as Lucky) 4.11.2013 by Nicholas Harding
Rehearsing Godot (Mullins as Lucky) 4.11.2013 by Nicholas Harding
Rehearsing Godot (Mullins as Lucky) 4.11.2013 by Nicholas Harding

Waiting for Godot

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2015

'Artist and actors, advancing spasmodically, find their rhythm together' writes Sarah Engledow.

Robert Drew by Nicholas Harding video: 3 minutes
Robert Drew by Nicholas Harding video: 3 minutes
Robert Drew by Nicholas Harding video: 3 minutes
Robert Drew by Nicholas Harding video: 3 minutes

Robert Drewe

An interview with Nicholas Harding

Portrait story

Artist Nicholas Harding talks about what was captured in his portrait of Robert Drewe.

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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.