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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.

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Tim Burstall

1975
Kerry Dundas

gelatin silver photograph on paper (frame: 51.0 cm x 42.0 cm, sight: 38.5 cm x 29.5 cm)

Tim Burstall (1927-2004) set up Eltham Films in the early 1950s, when the local film industry was moribund. A Geelong Grammar boy, Tim had found his way to the Boyd family pottery with his girlfriend, Betty Rogers, in 1945. The teenagers became friends with Yvonne and Arthur Boyd; Yvonne and Betty joined the East Malvern branch of the Communist Party in 1945, and Yvonne and Tim Burstall were lovers for a time. The Burstalls and the Percevals settled in Eltham in the late 1940s. Having established Eltham films with Patrick Ryan, Burstall won an award at the 1960 Venice Film Festival for his short children’s film The Prize. That year, Eltham’s Black Man and His Bride: Australian Paintings by Arthur Boyd Australia won the AFI Award Silver Medallion in the Experimental category. Other early ventures of the company include the television series Sebastian the Fox (1961-1963), which won an AFI Special Award; a film about the ceramic sculptures of John Perceval (1961); and Ned Kelly: Australian paintings by Nolan (1962) which won an Australian Academy of Television and Cinema Arts award. These were followed by Antipodean painters (1963), Australia Felix: Australian paintings by Tom Roberts (1963), Sydney Blues: Paintings by Robert Dickerson (1963),The Crucifixion: Bas reliefs in silver by Matcham Skipper and a documentary, The Making of a Gallery (1965) about the National Gallery of Victoria. In 1967, Betty Burstall founded La Mama, a ‘playwright’s theatre’ in an old building in Carlton, Melbourne. Local actors, writers, directors, poets and musicians used the space for innovative, small-scale productions in which the audience practically sat on the stage. Tim Burstall’s first feature film, the arthouse venture 2000 Weeks (1969) was a flop, from which he never recovered. He raised the money for his next film, Stork (1971), by selling several of his Arthur Boyd paintings; the investment paid off, for Stork was Australia’s first commercially successful feature since 1955. Its successor, Alvin Purple (1973) was a huge local success and the first Australian feature released worldwide by a big US distributor. After Petersen and Eliza Fraser he embarked on The Last of the Knucklemen (1979), set in Andamooka, an isolated opal mining town which had a population of barely 300 by the time the film was made. The world premiere of the film, which starred Gerard Kennedy, Steve Bisley and Michael Caton (in his screen debut) took place at the Andamooka Community Hall. Burstall suffered a fatal stroke at a screening of his films in Eltham in 2004. His diaries, dwelling affectionately on his sexual efforts, were published as Memoirs of a Young Bastard in 2012.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012
© Estate of Kerry Dundas

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

Kerry Dundas (age 44 in 1975)

Tim Burstall (age 46 in 1975)

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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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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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