Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

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.

Donald Friend at Owl Creek

1983
Lawrence Daws

ink and charcoal on paper (frame: 75.0 cm x 67.0 cm, sight: 50.0 cm x 44.0 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Donald Friend (1915-1989), painter, writer and diarist, studied at the RAS and Dattilo-Rubbo’s school in Sydney before spending 1935 and 1936 at the Westminster School in London. Returning to Sydney via Nigeria, he became a member of the Merioola Group, an association of young creative types who were thrown together through communal life in an artists’ boarding house, ‘Merioola’ in Sydney between 1945 and 1950. Members of the group included Loudon Sainthill, Justin O’Brien, Jocelyn Rickards and Arthur Fleischmann; they exhibited at the Myer Gallery in Melbourne and the David Jones Gallery in Sydney in 1947. As various members left to travel and work overseas, the group disbanded. Robert Hughes characterised their work as the ‘Charm School’, a label which has adhered. Having served as an artillery gunner in Borneo and Moratai, Friend travelled further, residing in Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in the early 1960s and there making a series of sculptures. In 1968 he settled in a house he had built in Bali, whence he sent works for exhibition at the Macquarie Gallery and Australian Galleries. He returned to Australia in 1982; the year after he died, the Art Gallery of New South Wales held a major retrospective of his work. His books include Gunner’s Diary (1943), Painter’s Journal (1946), Hillendia (1956), Birds from the Magic Mountain (1977) and Bumbooziana (1978). Friend is represented in the National Gallery and all state galleries. Philip Bacon mounted a retrospective of Friend’s work in 1989, the year he died. Friend’s copious diaries were published by the National Library of Australia in four volumes, from 2001 to 2006. The last text includes details of the artist’s sexual relationships with young boys during his time in Bali in the 1960s and 1970s, revelations that have led to ongoing controversy concerning Friend’s artistic legacy.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Lawrence Daws 2012
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

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

Lawrence Daws (age 56 in 1983)

Donald Friend (age 68 in 1983)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related portraits

1. Donald Friend, 1987. All Greg Weight.

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 building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

Support your Portrait Gallery

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

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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 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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency