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Ken Catchpole
, 2014

by Gary Grealy

inkjet print (frame: 143.0 cm x 116.5 cm, image: 99.0 cm x 74.0 cm)

Ken Catchpole OAM (1939-2017), former rugby union international, excelled at various sports in his school years in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, but began to show real prowess in rugby as a student at Scots College in the 1950s. Selected for the GPS first XV in his final years at high school, his club rugby career commenced with Randwick in 1958. In 1959 he made his debut for New South Wales in a match against the British Lions. Selected for the Wallabies, aged 21, in 1961, he became one of the few players to make their Test debut as captain, leading the side to three victories over Fiji at home and then on a tour of South Africa. Declared by one pundit to be ‘the greatest halfback the world has known’ following Australia’s wins over Wales and England in 1966-67, Catchpole was known for his quick and supremely accurate passing, and in combination with fly-half, Phil Hawthorne, is held to have engineered a number of historic victories, such as a series win against the touring Springboks in 1965. Having played a total of 27 Tests with the Wallabies (thirteen as captain), Catchpole suffered a career-ending leg injury in a match against the All Blacks in 1968. A member of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame since 1985, Catchpole was added to the Wall of Fame at the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham in 2004 and the following year became one of the first five players inducted into the Wallabies Hall of Fame. In 2013 he and his former teammate, John Thornett, were among the six Australians honoured by the International Rugby Board with inclusion in its Hall of Fame.

Gary Grealy (b. 1950) has established himself over many years as one of Sydney’s leading commercial and portrait photographers with work commissioned by leading advertising agencies and major national and international clients. His work has been exhibited in prestigious photographic competitions both here and overseas, and he has been a finalist in the National Photographic Portrait Prize five times. Consequently, the National Portrait Gallery’s collection includes his portraits of commercial gallery directors Geoffrey Legge and Frank Watters (a NPPP finalist for 2009); and former Art Gallery of NSW Director, Edmund Capon (a finalist in 2012). In 2014, businessman and arts patron Patrick Corrigan AM provided the Gallery with funds to commission a series of portraits of rugby greats and jazz musicians. This work is the first in the series. To date, Corrigan has donated or contributed to the acquisition of some 130 works for the collection.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds from the Patrick Corrigan Portrait Commission Series 2014
Accession number: 2014.46