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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.

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Ray Crooke

In their own words

Recorded 1963

Ray Crooke
Audio: 2 minutes

Ever since I can remember, I’ve wanted to express the relationship of man to nature. That is why I think that I found the pattern in the islands, the simple island people living in some sort of crude harmony with nature, so exciting and fascinating. This relationship is deeper than just a decorative pattern of people walking in tropical foliage, it’s something which I have always felt myself. I’ve always been interested in the study of nature, from the smallest facets of insects up to birds and animals and plants, not in a scientific way but in a practical way, in a sense of wonderment; the beauty and the sort of mystery about them is very important to me. In fact, this feeling of wonder, to be able to sort of see these things with some sort of fresh vision, is the thing that I find most important to keep.

The relationship of the man to his environment is quite a problem pictorially because although I want to paint man in relation to nature, I also want to paint good paintings, that is, paintings that have the values of paint and colour and shape and so on. So all the facets of a good painting – design, texture, and all the values and so on – I try and I hope that I can weld them into this one simple expression of man in some form of dignified harmony with the natural world around him.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Ray Crooke is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

Related people

Ray Crooke AM

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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