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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Stephen Murray-Smith

1980
Fred Williams

oil on canvas (frame: 94.0 cm x 78.5 cm, support: 91.4 cm x 75.6 cm)

Stephen Murray-Smith (1922–1988), writer and editor, was educated at Geelong Grammar and the University of Melbourne before serving in New Guinea during World War II. After the war he lived in London and worked for Telepress news agency in Prague for several years; one of his first publications on his return to Melbourne was There’s No Iron Curtain!: An Australian Journalist in Eastern Europe (1952). A member of the Communist Party of Australia for thirteen years, he was a co-founder, with comrades Frank Hardy and Eric Lambert, of the Melbourne Realist Writers’ Association. In 1954, the year he wrote an essay on Indo-China for the Australian Peace Council, he and Eric Lambert co-founded the magazine Overland, its motto ‘Temper Democratic, Bias Australian’. Distanced from the Party after 1956, it was not long before the magazine proved to have ‘failed to attract quality writing from traditional workers’, and developed the mix of fiction and poetry, reportage, analysis and review that appealed to its university-educated, left-wing readers. From 1973 Murray-Smith edited Melbourne Studies in Education. While writing Mission to the Islands: The missionary voyages of Canon Marcus Brownrigg 1872–1885 (1979) he campaigned for the preservation of the chapel built for Aboriginal deportees to Wybalenna, Flinders Island. His books included Henry Lawson (1962), Indirections: A literary autobiography (1981), Right Words: a guide to English usage in Australia (1987) and Sitting on penguins: people and politics in Australian Antarctica (1988), the latter with artwork by Jan Senbergs. He left an enormous archive, which would serve, he said, to ‘document exactly what it was like to be an academic in Melbourne in the later part of the twentieth century’.

Fred Williams travelled to Erith Island in March 1974 with artist Clifton Pugh, Stephen Murray-Smith and Ian Turner, a historian, who wrote an account of the visit for Overland. Williams painted powerful gouaches there, and Murray-Smith later published his diary of their trip, Many Moods and Many Voices.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Lyn Williams AM 2011
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Fred Williams

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Fred Williams (age 53 in 1980)

Stephen Murray-Smith (age 58 in 1980)

Donated by

Lyn Williams (4 portraits)

Related information

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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.

Clifton Pugh painting in the studio
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio

Painting mates

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2011

Michael Desmond discusses Fred Williams' portraits of friends, artist Clifton Pugh, David Aspden and writer Stephen Murray-Smith, and the stylistic connections between his portraits and landscapes.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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