Skip to main content

Bob Hawke
, 2012

by Luke Cornish

hand-cut acetate stencil, aerosol enamel on canvas (frame: 185.8 cm x 140.0 cm, support: 183.0 cm x 138.0 cm)

Luke Cornish, born and raised in Canberra, is a self-taught artist also known as ELK. After school he worked in construction jobs but found himself taking more and more days off to work on art projects. He fell into stencilling while studying horticulture and held his first exhibition, How you like me now bitch, in 2010. His portrait of Father Bob McGuire was a finalist in the 2012 Archibald Prize. That year, he went to Bob Hawke’s apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour to take photographs in preparation for this portrait, which was a finalist in the Moran Prize. In recent years Cornish has travelled thrice to Syria. For some years he was represented by Metro Gallery in Melbourne and Nanda\Hobbs in Sydney but has recently amicably left the dealers, telling Sally Pryor in the Canberra Times ‘I’ve pretty much once again said goodbye to financial security in order to do what I want to do’.

Aside from a plastic fruit-juice dispenser in the shape of his head, this was the first portrait of Bob Hawke acquired by the National Portrait Gallery. It was purchased from Metro Gallery in Canberra’s centenary year, 2013, largely in recognition of ELK’s success.

Robert James Lee Hawke AC GCL was Australia’s 23rd prime minister, from March 1983 to December 1991. He is the longest-serving Labor prime minister.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2013
Accession number: 2013.8