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by Angus Trumble, 1 October 2014

Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 by Ian Jennings
Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 by Ian Jennings

I suspect that, like me, many more of our visitors than would perhaps care to admit it occasionally take careful note of which sitters share their own birth year. This may prompt us to make a necessarily discreet assessment of how this or that subject who is our exact contemporary was faring at the date when he or she was portrayed, compared with our own remembered self at the same age. Entirely subjective feelings of secret pleasure, smugness, or indeed dissatisfaction or deep inadequacy may arise as a consequence, but I think rarely indifference.

This month I turn fifty, so these ruminations have particular piquancy for I am just now looking rather more closely than usual at Fiona Foley, Steven Heathcote, Brenda Croft, Russell Crowe, Jeff Fenech, Akira Isogawa, Lee Kernaghan, My Le Thi, Shona Wilson and Mark Taylor AO, mindful that they too were 1964 arrivals. Regardless of the almost comical variety and randomness of this cross-section—in no way could we be seen as a group to represent our generation, but then again why not?—nevertheless crossing a major hurdle such as this must form for us a sobering shared preoccupation. All will just now be looking back and marvelling at the speed with which the decades have flown past. And we are no doubt looking towards a horizon that is rather more proximate than it used to be. Each passing year moreover extends the distance between what they see in their portrait, and what jumps out at them from the bathroom mirror.

On the whole I am glad I never took up boxing, test cricket, country and western music, or acquired fame in Hollywood although I suppose (apart from test cricket) it is never too late. I was born in Margaret Coles House, the old maternity wing at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. Some years ago it was demolished.