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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.

Kym Bonython, n.d.

Kerry Dundas

gelatin silver photograph on paper (frame: 41.5 cm x 34.0 cm, sight: 21.5 cm x 29.0 cm)

Hugh Reskymer 'Kym' Bonython AC DFC AFC (1920-2011), company director, art dealer, jazz authority, music promoter and speedway entrepreneur, was one of the most significant collectors and dealers of contemporary Australian art in the post-war period. Raised in Adelaide, where his grandfather and father had been leading philanthropists, he served in the RAAF during World War 2 before returning to the ABC as a broadcaster. His jazz program ran from 1937 to the mid-1970s. In the capacity of music promoter, Bonython brought scores of international jazz and rock acts to Australia. At the same time, he was a speedway impresario in Adelaide from 1954 to 1973 and won the Australian speedway championship in 1956. He operated the Hungry Horse Gallery and then the Bonython Gallery in Paddington from 1965 to 1976, and the Bonython Gallery in Adelaide from 1961 to 1983. Daniel Thomas recalls that Bonython epitomised the reasons why 'the whole of Australia in the early 60s looked toward Adelaide'. For fifteen years Bonython acted as art consultant to BHP and he advised in the formation of many important collections of Australian art for national and international clients, notably the Americans Benno Schmidt and Harold Mertz. Director of Austereo Ltd from 1979 to 1991, he sat on many arts-related boards and committees including Musica Viva, the Australia Japan Foundation, the South Australian Jubilee Board, the Adelaide Festival of the Arts and the Australia Council for the Arts. Bonython has written six books on Australian painting and his autobiography, Ladies' Legs and Lemonade, was published in 1979.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Accession number: 2012.199

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Kerry Dundas

Kym Bonython

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Interview with Andrew Sayers video: 2 minutes
Interview with Andrew Sayers video: 2 minutes
Interview with Andrew Sayers video: 2 minutes
Interview with Andrew Sayers video: 2 minutes

Kym Bonython

'The man and his cap'

Portrait story

Former National Portrait Gallery Director, Andrew Sayers, describes John Brack's portrait of Kym Bonython.

Portrait of Kym Bonython/Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap, 1963-66 John Brack
Portrait of Kym Bonython/Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap, 1963-66 John Brack
Portrait of Kym Bonython/Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap, 1963-66 John Brack
Portrait of Kym Bonython/Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap, 1963-66 John Brack

Somewhere to hang your cap

Magazine article by Beatrice Thompson, 2007

A pair of portraits by John Brack; Portrait of Kym Bonython and Portrait of Mr Bonython's speedway cap combine to create a quirky depiction of their subject.

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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.