Skip to main content

In an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the Gallery is closed to the public until further notice. Learn more

Menu

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.

Ian Fairweather, c. 1966

Ray Crooke

oil on canvas (support: 50.7 cm x 41.0 cm)

Ian Fairweather (1891-1974), painter, grew up in Scotland, where he trained as an army officer. Not long into World War 1 he was captured by Germans in France; he was to spend the next four years as a prisoner of war, studying Japanese and drawing. After the war he spent four years at London's Slade School, studying Japanese and Chinese by night, before embarking on lengthy travels though Asia and India. He arrived in Melbourne in 1934 and his extraordinary ability was immediately recognised by Gino Nibbi, Lina Bryans and others; but in the midst of painting a mural on brown paper for the Menzies Hotel, he left for the Philippines. Having served with the British army in India he returned to Australia, travelling before settling in Lina Bryans's artists' enclave at Darebin. Although there had been many periods in which he could not afford paint and tried to work with odd materials that 'mostly fell off', by the end of World War 2 his paintings had been acquired by the London Contemporary Art Society, the Tate and the Leicester Gallery, and had been exhibited in British Painting since Whistler and the Exhibition of 20th Century Art at the National Gallery in London. Fairweather moved to Queensland in 1947, and went from there to Darwin, whence, after living in the hulk of a boat on the beach, he set out for Timor in 1952. He nearly died on the journey, but was nonetheless deported to England, where he served hard labour before returning to Brisbane in 1953. Eight years earlier, he had sailed a life raft to Bribie Island and stayed there for seven months. He returned to the island, built a Malay-style dwelling and lived there alone until his death. In his hut, working with synthetic polymer on cardboard, he painted the multilayered, dull-coloured works, teeming with his accreted influences, which won him his renown as one of Australia's greatest abstractionists.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of David Crooke 2011
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2011.46

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Ray Crooke (age 44 in 1966)

Ian Fairweather (age 75 in 1966)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

David Crooke (2 portraits)

Related portraits

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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

Plan your visit

Location, accessibility and amenities

Support your Portrait Gallery

We depend on your support to keep creating our programs, exhibitions, publications and building the amazing portrait collection!

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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.