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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.

Howard Arkley, 1998 (printed 2010)

Bill McAuley

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 36.0 cm x 49.0 cm, image: 20.8 cm x 41.0 cm)

Howard Arkley (1951-1999) was born, died, and spent the majority of his life in Melbourne, where he studied at Prahran CAE and Melbourne State College between 1969 and 1973. From 1975 until 1999 he exhibited at Tolarno Galleries. In 1977, Arkley was awarded residencies in Paris and New York. He came to see no sense in the Australian preoccupation with paintings of the bush, when such a small percentage of the population engages with the bush itself. Henceforth, Melbourne’s suburbs provided the inspiration and setting for his best known works, made over twenty years of experimentation in an immaculately-finished, psychedelic and incandescent airbrush style. Arkley’s suite of interiors, The Home Show, was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 1999. Afterwards, he travelled to London to plan an album cover for Australian musician Nick Cave, and then to Los Angeles for a sell-out show of his paintings. He married his long-time partner, artist Alison Burton, in Las Vegas before returning to Melbourne, where he died from an overdose a few days later. Major retrospectives of his work were curated by Monash University Gallery in 1991 and NGV in 2006; his art was included in the National Gallery exhibition Federation in 2000 and Fieldwork: Australian art 1968-2002 at the NGVA in 2002. Arkley’s painting of Nick Cave was one of the National Portrait Gallery’s first commissions and remains one of the Gallery’s signature images. His works are held by the National Gallery and most state collections.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2010
© Bill McAuley

Accession number: 2010.92

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Bill McAuley (age 47 in 1998)

Howard Arkley (age 47 in 1998)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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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.