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Robyn Archer
, 1990

by George Gittoes

oil on canvas (frame: 146.5 x 137.3 cm, support: 134.5 x 126.5 cm)

Robin Archer AO (b. 1948), performer, writer and director, studied at the University of Adelaide and Flinders University before becoming a high school English teacher. She became a star with her first theatrical efforts, where she not only wrote the songs, but also performed. Archer is internationally renowned for her interpretations of Brecht/Weill and Eisler, which she performed in New York and Berlin in 2002 to tremendous acclaim. In the 1990s, she began her career as director of various artistic festivals, including the National Festival of Australian Theatre (1992–94), the Adelaide Festival (1995–2000), and the Melbourne Festival (2002–03) as well as being the Artistic Director of the Centenary of Canberra in 2013. In 2016 she became the Chair of the Arts Centre on the Gold Coast, and is also the Strategic Advisor for Arts and Culture on the Gold Coast. She has honorary doctorates from Sydney and Flinders universities and her honours include the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, the International Citation of Merit from New York’s International Society of Performing Arts and Australia’s Dame Elizabeth Murdoch Arts Business Leadership Award. She was announced as the Australian Book Review’s Laureate at the end of 2016.

George Gittoes is an Australian social realist painter who is known for his coverage of war and conflict. This portrait alludes to Archer’s cabaret performances and the inspiration provided by the political satire of Bertolt Brect and Kurt Weil of the 1920s and 1930s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Robyn Archer AO 2012
Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2012.50