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Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark

2000
Peter Wegner

oil on canvas (155.5 cm x 167.5 cm)

Graeme Clark AO (b. 1935) is Laureate Professor Emeritus of Otolaryngology at the University of Melbourne and the Director Emeritus of the Bionic Ear Institute. Clark made it possible for thousands of profoundly deaf people to hear when he launched the cochlear implant in 1978. The possibility of using an electrical device to stimulate the nerves inside the inner ear to produce hearing had been pursued sporadically by researchers since the eighteenth century. Clark discovered how to insert an electrode into the inner ear while studying shells on the beach; it took him and his team twelve years to develop the first device that could do this successfully. Nicknamed the 'Bionic Ear', it remains the world leader in its field. Research and refinement of the cochlear implant continue, and Clark has also developed other hearing devices, in pursuit of what has been called one of the major medical advances of our time.

Peter Wegner painted this work for the 2000 Archibald Prize, having seen a photograph of Clark – with his 'warm and welcoming smile' – in an article about the bionic ear. Wegner's portrait shows Clark holding the prototype of the bionic ear, his open-handed gesture reflecting his years as a surgeon as well as his engaged and animated style of conversation.

Gift of the family of Professor Graeme Clark 2001. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Peter Wegner

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.
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Artist and subject

Peter Wegner (age 47 in 2000)

Professor Graeme Clark AO (age 65 in 2000)

Donated by

Family Trust of Professor Graeme Clark (1 portrait)

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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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency