Brett Whiteley, ArtistTo Culture
As one of Australia's most venerated painters, Sydney-born Brett Whiteley (1939-1992) garnered considerable acclaim both at home and abroad. His unique and avant-garde perspective of the Australian landscape has endeared him to the Australian public. His style is one of the most easily identifiable amongst the uninitiated. As a young painter, he famously drew inspiration from Lloyd Rees' work, particularly his paintings of Sydney Harbour. Between 1976-1978, Whiteley won each of the Archibald, Sulman and Wynne prizes twice. He traveled extensively, working in London, New York and Fiji. While in London he married Wendy Julius and they had their only child Arkie (1964-2001), whose acting career was cut short by cancer. He always credited his wife Wendy Whiteley as being his muse although they divorced in 1989. In 1991 he was awarded the Order of Australia in the Queen's Birthday honours. He became increasingly dependant on alcohol and addicted to heroin and in 1992 was found dead in a motel room in Thirroul, north of Wollongong.
With his own career blossoming after winning a traveling arts scholarship at the age of 21, Beryl Whiteley set up the Brett Whiteley Traveling Scholarship in memory of her son in 1999. His studio, where he lived and worked between 1988 and 1992, was gifted to the Art Gallery of NSW. The Brett Whiteley Studio, 2 Raper St, Surry Hills, is open to the public on the weekends and by appointment.