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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.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Me

1992
Ken Done

oil and synthetic polymer paint on canvas (frame: 119.7 cm x 94.5 cm, support: 102 cm x 76 cm)

Ken Done AM (b. 1940), painter, studied at East Sydney Technical College before becoming an advertising graphic designer. Having achieved great success in this field – he won a Cannes Gold Lion in 1967 – he gave it up to paint full-time in 1980, working from a 'cabin' below his home at Chinaman's Beach on Sydney Harbour. Soon, his stylised, colourful representations of Sydney's beaches, harbour, animals and flowers found their way onto placemats, t-shirts, bibs, swimwear, bedlinen, mugs and vases; in the 1990s, the walls, ceiling and some furniture in the Garden Restaurant at the Powerhouse Museum were covered with murals by the artist. His crucial role in promoting Sydney as a tourist destination, particularly in Japan, is now widely acknowledged. Until this self-portrait was acquired by the National Portrait Gallery, no major Australian gallery held an example of his work, but his business has stayed strong, and his paintings still sell well, particularly in the UK and Japan. The genial artist was named Australia's Father of the Year in 1989, Mosman Citizen of the Year in 1993, Australia's Goodwill Ambassador to UNICEF in 1993 and a Taronga Zoo Centenary Ambassador (promoting awareness of difficulties facing sea turtles) in 2016. Done’' memoir Ken Done: A life coloured in was published in 2016 and his Ken Done: Paintings you probably haven't seen in 2017.

Gift of the artist 2009. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Ken Done

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.

Artist and subject

Ken Done (age 52 in 1992)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Ken Done (2 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Ken Done

'I am very Sydney'

Portrait story

Iconic Australian artist Ken Done discusses his life and career as a painter.

Me
Me
Me
Me

Donated duo

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Dr Sarah Engledow writes about the gift of two striking paintings by the Australian artist Ken Done 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.

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.

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