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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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Play on (A portrait of Neale Daniher)

2021
Michael Peck

oil on linen (support: 175.0 cm x 175.0 cm, frame: 177.0 cm x 177.0 cm)

Neale Daniher AO (b. 1961), former Australian rules footballer and coach, grew up in Ungarie, New South Wales, and was signed to play for Essendon in the VFL in 1979. After ten injury-plagued seasons he retired from playing to become an assistant coach. He was appointed senior coach of the Melbourne Demons in 1998, guiding the club to the Grand Final against Essendon in 2000. He retired from coaching in 2007. Diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND) in 2013, Daniher co-founded the organisation FightMND 'to take the fight right up to it'. He has since become the face of The Big Freeze, a fundraising event held annually when Melbourne play Collingwood at the MCG. Daniher was named an Officer of the Order of Australia in 2021 for his work with FightMND, which to date has raised over $50 million for research into treatments for the disease.

Michael Peck formed his idea for this portrait after reading Daniher's memoir, in which he calls MND 'The Beast': 'an ugly piece of gear, hairy and dark, like a huge hybrid of a blowfly and a moth'. Peck depicted Daniher wearing a FightMND beanie, and Daniher wanted the portrait to show his arms, as they are where his condition is most evident. 'It was not comfortable for Neale to sit like this,' Peck says, 'but he was determined to capture the right image. This alone is testament to his strength and determination.'

Commissioned with funds provided by The Calvert-Jones Foundation, The Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation and Dr David Thurin AM and Lisa Thurin 2021
© Michael Peck

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

Michael Peck (age 44 in 2021)

Neale Daniher AO (age 60 in 2021)

Related information

Play on (A portrait of Neale Daniher)
Play on (A portrait of Neale Daniher)
Play on (A portrait of Neale Daniher)
Play on (A portrait of Neale Daniher)

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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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