Born Elea, Albert Namatjira was rechristened after converting to Christianity. The Australian aboriginal painter, known for his watercolor paintings, couldn’t build a house in Alice Springs because of his aboriginal origin, leading to public outrage, which eventually led the government to make him and his wife full citizens.
Sidney Nolan is best remembered for his depictions of Australian folklore in his art. The artist had had brief stints as a cyclist, a gold miner, and a cook, before he took up painting as a vocation at 21. Apart from landscapes, his paintings also portrayed legendary figures such as outlaw Ned Kelly.
Best known for her hyper-realistic sculptures made of materials such as silicone, fiber glass, and human hair, Australian sculptor Patricia Piccinini has created iconic works such as Graham and Bootflower. The Sierra Leone-born artist initially made drawings at medical museums and later used her knowledge of human anatomy in her art.
Oodgeroo Noonuccal was an Aboriginal Australian poet, political activist, artist, and educator. She became the first Aboriginal Australian to publish a book of verse. She emerged as a prominent political activist in the 1960s and campaigned for aboriginal rights. She was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire and won many literary awards.
Steve Kilbey is an English-Australian singer-songwriter and bass guitarist best known for his association with the rock band The Church. He performs as a solo artist as well and has 14 solo albums to his name. A multi-talented personality, he is also a poet, painter, and music producer. As an artist, he has had at least two exhibits in US.
Australian painter Brett Whiteley is best known for being associated with the avant-garde and expressionist movements. He scripted history by becoming the youngest artist to have had his painting purchased by the Tate Gallery. Some of his most popular paintings were inspired by British serial killer John Christie.
Australian photographer Frank Hurley is best remembered for recording the Antarctic expedition of Sir Ernest Shackleton, known as Endurance. He also risked his life clicking pictures in both the World Wars. After running away from home at 13, he studied engineering but found his calling in photography.
Tom Roberts is largely credited with bringing in impressionism to Australia. He initially took up photography to support his art classes and then went to England to study art. He later co-established an artists’ camp at Box Hill and also gained fame as a painter of outdoor life in Australia.
Best known as lead singer and solo continues member of the Australian alternative rock band The Vines, Craig Nicholls developed an early interest in music. He opened his band, then called Rishikesh, in 1994. Later he changed the name to Vines and as it started playing gigs he began writing songs for it, also painting covers for several of its album.
Cyprus-born Australian performance artist Stelarc uses his body as a medium. He has used surgeries, prosthetic additions, electric muscle stimulators, robotics, and fleshhook suspensions to come up with pathbreaking art pieces such as Ear on Arm. He also often collaborates with fellow Australian artist Nina Sellars.
Born to the ceramicist-painter couple Doris and Merric Boyd, Arthur Boyd followed in his parents’ footsteps to become a painter, printmaker, and potter. His works were often set against the backdrop of the Australian bush. He was also part of the Antipodeans, a group of artists who encouraged figurative art.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye, an Anmatyerr-speaking indigenous Australian artist, became famous for her poetic depictions of her desert homeland. She worked from a remote corner of the Simpson Desert. Apart from acrylic, her work also included elements of batik, tie-dye, and block printing and had the yam plant as a recurrent theme.
After leaving home at 14, Vali Myers moved into a shared apartment and paid for her ballet classes by working in a factory. The red-haired beauty became a dancer with the Melbourne Modern Ballet Company by 17. She later balanced her life as a nightclub dancer and a talented painter.
Apart from being a renowned artist and filmmaker, Martin Sharp was also a talented musician and songwriter. His art included posters for popular musicians such as Donovan and Bob Dylan. He often included psychedelic patterns and cartoons in his art. He also gained fame as an editor of the satire magazine Oz.
A self-taught artist, Pro Hart pioneered the Australian Outback painting movement. While he began sketching at age 7, he later painted rural life and religious subjects. He also invented balloon painting and cannon painting and experimented with sculpting, too. He was also passionate collector of vintage cars.
Sally Morgan is an Australian dramatist, author, and artist. Counted among the important Australian Aboriginal figures, Morgan is respected for her work and has been honored with several awards like Human Rights Literature and Other Writing Award. Her works are showcased in several public and private collections around the world. Morgan’s work is also displayed at the Australian National Gallery.
One of the most popular Aboriginal artists from Australia, Clifford Possum Tjapaltjarri was raised in the Australian bush and later often depicted the terrain in his paintings. Starting his career as a carver, he later became part of the Aboriginal Art Movement. Dreamings remains one of his best-known paintings.
English-born Australian artist Russell Drysdale, also known as Tass Drysdale, showed a major influence of abstract and surreal art in his works. One of the most well-known modern painters, who mostly depicted the rural landscapes, he was also a skilled photographer. He had started painting as therapy after an eye operation.
One of the most controversial Australian artists, Elizabeth Durack was known for her unconventional portraits of Papuan women, far removed from the sexualized depictions of such indigenous women previously seen in art. She also drew flak after painting under an Aboriginal pseudonym, Eddie Burrup, which she believed was her alter ego.