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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.

Bill Leak, 1984

Terry Milligan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 56.7 cm x 37.6 cm, image: 55.5 cm x 35.5 cm)

Bill Leak (1956-2017), portrait painter and caricaturist, trained at the Julian Ashton art school in the mid-1970s, and began his career painting landscapes. In 1978 he left Australia to travel and study in Europe. He returned to Australia in 1982, exhibited in Sydney and worked as a cartoonist at the Bulletin. In 1985 he began a ten-year stint as an illustrator for the Sydney Morning Herald; ten years later he took on the role of chief political illustrator for the Australian. As well as his nine Walkley awards for journalism, and nineteen Stanley Awards from the Australian Black and White Artists' Society (eight of them Gold Awards for Artist of the Year), he has been an Archibald Prize finalist twelve times. The National Portrait Gallery has painted portraits by Leak of Don Bradman, Richard Woolcott and Robert Hughes, as well as a cartoon of Mark Taylor. It is indicative of Leak's popularity that Josonia Palaitis's portrait of him won the Archibald People's Choice Award in 1995 and Esther Erlich's portrait of him won the same award in 2000. To widespread public dismay, Leak required cranial surgery and long recuperation after a fall from a balcony in late 2008.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Wayne Williams 2011

Accession number: 2011.24

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Terry Milligan (age 43 in 1984)

Bill Leak (age 28 in 1984)

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.

Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes

Don Bradman

The creation of 'Our Don'

Portrait story

A portrait story that explores the life and times of legendary Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.

Robert Hughes - Nothing if not critical, 2001 Bill Leak
Robert Hughes - Nothing if not critical, 2001 Bill Leak
Robert Hughes - Nothing if not critical, 2001 Bill Leak
Robert Hughes - Nothing if not critical, 2001 Bill Leak

Heart of Darkness

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2002

Magda Keaney talks with Bill Leak about his bold new portrait of Robert Hughes in the National Portrait Gallery collection.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.