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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Harold Thornton, 1977 (printed 2018)

Gary Ede

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 42.9 cm x 29.7 cm, image: 39.0 cm x 25.8 cm)

The life of eccentric Sydney artist Harry 'The Kangaroo' Thornton is yet to be thoroughly researched. He was born in Griffith, NSW, and worked in various jobs before deciding, in the late 1950s, to become an artist. He had little if any formal training; his work shows the influences of his times. Nonetheless, he was an Archibald finalist five times between 1946 and 1983, his subjects including Roy Rene (1948) and Al Grassby (1982). With his long white hair, fringed outfits and gaudy hand-painted vehicle he was a common sight around art events in Sydney during the 1970s and 1980s. Despite his visibility, his few solo shows did not do well. Discouraged by Australia and recalling the good times he had in Amsterdam during the seventies, Thornton removed himself and all his works to the Netherlands in the early nineties. He died in Sydney, having returned, leaving an estate of approximately 200 paintings.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018

Accession number: 2018.111

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Gary Ede (age 31 in 1977)

Harold Thornton (age 62 in 1977)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes
Interview with Bob Brown video: 12 minutes

Bob Brown

In defence of the 'leech ridden ditch'

Portrait story

Bob Brown discusses the events that occurred during the Franklin River campaign as depicted in his portrait by Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton.

Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton
Dr Brown and Green Old Time Waltz, 1983 Harold Thornton

Where the wild things are

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2009

Michael Desmond explores the complex portrait of Dr Bob Brown by Harold 'The Kangaroo' Thornton.

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The National Portrait Gallery
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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.