Donald Friend


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(1915–89), born Moree, NSW, lived and painted in England, France and West Africa before the Second World War, in which he served in the artillery and as an official war artist 1945–46, visiting New Guinea and Borneo. After the war he lived in Sydney, Hill End, Europe and Sri Lanka, before ill health forced his return to Australia in 1980. Friend kept a lavishly illustrated diary from the age of 16 until the year before his death. This unique record of his work, life and times, now held in the National Library of Australia, formed the basis of his first books, Gunner's Diary (1943) and Painter's Journal (1946). His official work as war artist is collected in Gavin and Colleen Fry's Donald Friend: Australian War Artist 1945 (1982). Friend's other publications include a historical miscellany, A Collection of Hillendiana (1956); Donald Friend in Bali (1972); a loosely autobiographical novel, Save Me from the Shark (1973); limited art editions, The Cosmic Turtle (1976), Birds from the Magic Mountain (1977, Balinese folk stories), An Alphabet of Owls Et Cetera (1981) and Songs of the Vagabond Scholars (1982); an illustrated satire on bushranging and other pioneering traditions, Coogan's Gully (1979); Bumbooziana (1979), a limited-edition portfolio of pictures and text which ranges beyond its immediate satirical target – scientific and anthropological expeditions and nineteenth-century books of reminiscences – to embrace sexuality and art styles and Art in a Classless Society and Vice Versa (1985) in which he lampoons the Australian arts community. Friend also illustrated a nineteenth-century story, The Surprising Adventures of Blue-Eyed Patty (1979) and a licentious play by Rochester, The Farce of Sodom (1980). A feature-length film on Friend, The Prodigal Australian by Don Bennetts, was released in 1991. Barry Pearce assembled the publication, Donald Friend 1915–1989 (1990), to accompany a major retrospective exhibition of Friend's work in 1990.

From The Oxford Companion to Australian Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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