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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.

Tas Bull, 1986 (printed 2018)

Gary Ede

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 28.4 cm x 43.0 cm, image: 24.6 cm x 39.0 cm)

Tasnor ‘Tas’ Bull (1932-2003), trade union leader, gained his unusual first name from his parents’ birthplaces – his mother was Tasmanian and his father, Norwegian. Bull attended school in Tasmania but his father having died, he went to sea at fourteen, to spend the next three years abroad. By the time he returned to Australia he had seen much economic and social inequity. From 1949 to early 1956 he worked on the coast, becoming a member of both the Seaman’s Union and the Communist Party of Australia, reading widely and undertaking party work and training. He left the CPA in 1959. Back in Hobart, he joined the Waterside Workers’ Federation (WWF) and became involved in various struggles, writing a book on the long-running Hursey case and from 1972 working closely with the International Transport Workers’ Federation. He made friends in the art world and politics, opposing Australia’s involvement in Vietnam and South African apartheid as well as exploitation of Third World workers. Continuing to work on the wharves in Melbourne and Sydney, from 1984 to 1992 he was general secretary of the WWF and a rising power in the ACTU, of which he was senior vice president by 1991. His autobiography Life on the Waterfront was published in 1998. On the day of his funeral, a thousand mourners are said to have followed his hearse along a notorious section of the Sydney waterfront called the Hungry Mile, and wharf workers around the country stopped for a minute’s silence at midday.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018
© Gary Ede

Accession number: 2018.116

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Gary Ede (age 40 in 1986)

Tas Bull (age 54 in 1986)

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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.