The Bob Hawke Prime Ministerial Library
| Jump to Content

Robert Hannaford

Robert Hannaford is one of Australias most accomplished realist artists.

Hannaford was the political cartoonist on The Advertiser from 1964 to 1967 and won the AME Bale Art Scholarship in 1969-73. He has been a full-time artist since 1973, working in oil, watercolour, charcoal, pencil and pen drawing, and in sculpture and prints. Hannaford's technical excellence has developed over years of individualistic drawing, painting and sculpting. Nature has provided his inspiration with its qualities of form, light, tone and colour, which he transforms into his own art.

In 1990 Hannaford won Australias richest art competition, the Doug Moran National Portrait Prize with his painting Bill. In 1998 Hannaford won the inaugural Fleurieu Prize for his painting Mainland from Kangaroo Island.

Hannaford has been commissioned to paint many well known public figures including former Governor General Sir William Deane, parliamentary speaker Neil Andrew, former PM Paul Keating, Dame Joan Sutherland, the late Dame Roma Mitchell and Sir Donald Bradman and in 1996 a self portrait.

A regular finalist in the Archibald Prize, he is a three times winner of the Archibalds Peoples Choice award in 1992, 1996 and 1998. His latest commissioned portrait of Lowitja ODonoghue is an entrant in the Archibald Prize for 2007.

In 2001 Hannaford was awarded his most challenging commission: to capture on canvas the centenary of Federation commemorative sitting of the Commonwealth Parliament held in Melbourne on May 9, 2001. Hannaford took more than a year to complete this vast composition, a companion to the Tom Roberts famous Big Picture, of the original parliamentary sitting May 9, 1901 that now hangs in Parliament House, Canberra.

Born in Riverton, SA in 1944 Hannaford had no formal training as a painter though he had the guidance of some great mentors, including Ivor Hele and Sir Hans Heysen. Hannaford recently announced his joy at being able to paint again after his battle with tongue and neck cancer, ironically contracted, he thinks, from using the paints that have been his life for the past 40 years. Quoted as saying I enjoy painting portraits I enjoy looking into peoples eyes when Im painting them. Says Hannaford I have forever wanted to draw, paint and sculpt my reality. I am always amazed how such works expand my reality."

Hannafords first solo exhibition in 6 years opens in December 2006 at the Hill Smith Gallery in Adelaide.