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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.

Sir Mark Oliphant, 1972

Frank Hinder

fibre-tipped pen, wash on paper (sheet: 26.8 cm x 24.0 cm)

Sir Mark Oliphant AC KBE (1901-2000), physicist, was a pioneer in the development of radar and a member of the international teams that effected the artificial disintegration of the atomic nucleus. Oliphant studied physics at the University of Adelaide and was inspired to take his studies further when listening to Ernest Rutherford lecture in 1925. An 1851 Exhibition scholarship enabled him to work with Rutherford at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, where he gained his PhD in 1929. In the early 1930s Oliphant discovered new forms of hydrogen (Deuterium and Tritium) and helium (Helium 3); these discoveries laid the foundation for the development of nuclear weapons. During the war, Oliphant travelled back and forth between the USA and the UK, leading a team of British physicists who were collaborating with American scientists of the Manhattan Project on the development of the atomic bomb. After a postwar spell in Birmingham, Oliphant came to Canberra, where he was director of research in the physical sciences at the Australian National University from 1950 to 1966. A key player in the establishment of the Australian Academy of Science, he was its Foundation President from 1954 to 1956. In 1971 he became Governor of South Australia, a post he held until 1976. Oliphant was a vocal campaigner for the environment, Aboriginal land rights and women's affirmative action, and described himself as 'one of those persons who wish atomic weapons had never been made'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of HOTA (Home of the Arts), Gold Coast 2019 with the encouragement of Patrick Corrigan AM
© Enid Hawkins (nee Hinder)

Accession number: 2019.10

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Frank Hinder (age 66 in 1972)

Sir Mark Oliphant AC KBE (age 71 in 1972)

Donated by

HOTA (Home of the Arts) (9 portraits)

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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.