Murdoch hosts unveiling of new Richard Walley OAM portrait piece

September 3, 2015

Richard Walley OAM (centre) with artist Julie Dowling, Sid Myers (left) and Angus Trumble (Right)

Richard Walley OAM (centre) with artist Julie Dowling, Sid Myers (left) and Angus Trumble (Right)

Murdoch honorary degree recipient, Richard Walley OAM has been honoured in a new commissioned portrait that will be hung in the National Portrait Gallery.

The new portrait of the indigenous advocate, writer, artist and performer is the work of celebrated indigenous artist Julie Dowling, and was unveiled in front of more than 150 guests at Murdoch University last night.

Murdoch University Acting Vice Chancellor, Professor Andrew Taggart, was pleased the University could host the unveiling event at the South Street campus “to celebrate two of Western Australians most enduring and significant cultural icons”.

“Murdoch University is delighted to host an event of this nature, as this will be the first time an indigenous West Australian will be represented in a painting at the National Gallery,” Professor Taggart said.

“With both Richard and Julie holding Honorary Doctorates from Murdoch University, we are immensely proud of the work that they have done out in the community and look forward to this stunning piece of art being admired for generations to come.”

The Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Angus Trumble, was in Perth for the official launch of the commission piece funded by the Gallery’s Foundation, and was honoured to unveil this significant addition to the collection in Perth.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring together Julie Dowling and Richard Walley in this special way, with the support of the National Portrait Gallery Foundation. Without the support of our donors and sponsors these commissions would not be possible,” he said.

“Throughout our brief history, the National Portrait Gallery has made it a particular priority to commission new portraits of imminent Australians and this evening we gather to celebrate this latest one.

“What is so satisfying about this particular project is that all parties (artist, subject and donors) very much belong to Western Australia.”

The commission was made possible through the generous contributions of Foundation members Alan Dodge AM, Neil Archibald, Brandon Munro, Dr Walter Ong and Graeme Marshall.

National Portrait Gallery Foundation President, Sid Myer AM, said he could not wait to see the Richard Walley piece in Canberra at the National Gallery, a place he described as “the home of the soul of the country”.

“…behind every portrait there is a human soul and it is this collection of souls,” he said “that very much tells the story of our country”.

Richard Walley’s wife Robyn spoke of the pride and happiness shared by the family at the celebration of the launch.

“Richard has contributed vastly to the Noongar culture, the arts…and is a very much loved member of a very large family and a respected member of his Noongar-Yamatji community, of which he is so very proud of,” Robyn said.

“We as his family are all very happy and proud to be here tonight…to celebrate the launch of this beautiful portrait.”

Richard Walley OAM is a former Chair of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board of the Australia Council. He is also the founder and director of Aboriginal Productions and Promotions.

Julie Dowling is known for her social realist style of painting, drawing on a diverse range of traditions including European portraiture, Christian icons, mural painting, dotting and Indigenous Australian iconography. Her work is represented in most major Australian public collections.

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