Mr Ray Crooke AM




Ray Crooke, AM, is one of Australia’s best-loved and most accomplished painters. He is renowned for his sensitive and striking depictions of northern Australia and his work has been likened to that of French Post-Impressionist painter Paul Gauguin.

Mr Crooke’s paintings can be found in many major collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, State art galleries, regional art galleries, Australia House in London, and in the Vatican Museum collection.

Born in Melbourne in 1922, Mr Crooke’s lifelong passion for nature developed as a boy. He started painting at age 17 after joining the Australian Infantry Force in 1939, and served in World War II in Western Australia, North Queensland, Thursday Island, Cape York and Borneo. Mr Crooke’s portrayal of island life, with its use of colour and form evocative of the laid-back beauty of the tropics, won him wide acclaim and popularity.

After the war, he lived in the tropics, returning to full time painting in 1946 and exhibiting from 1949, and starting what became regular painting trips to Thursday Island, New Guinea, Cape York and Fiji. Mr Crooke lived in Melbourne with his wife and family from 1955-59 and taught art, before moving back to North Queensland and full time painting. For the next eight years he traveled constantly in the north, West Australia, Fiji and Tahiti before moving to Sydney in 1969, and then returning to Cairns where he has lived for the past 25 years.

He exhibited in London at the Australian Art Exhibition in the Tate Gallery in 1963, and the following year in a one-man show at Leicester Galleries. Mr Crooke won the prestigious Archibald Prize of the Art Gallery of NSW in 1969 with a portrait of his friend and writer George Johnson. In recent years, he has spent much of his time working with patterns and experimenting with techniques, as well as holding regular exhibitions around Australia and at Agnews in London in 1983 and 1988.

Mr Crooke was made a member of the Order of Australia in 1993 for services to visual arts, and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Griffith University in 1996. In 1997, The Perc Tucker Regional Gallery in Townsville honoured Mr Crooke with a large-scale retrospective exhibition North of Capricorn – The Art of Ray Crooke, which traveled throughout Australia, including the University’s Customs House Art Gallery in Brisbane.

Chancellor, in recognition of his distinguished career and his contribution to the arts, I present to you Ray Crooke for conferral of the award of Doctor of the University honoris causa to which he has been admitted by the Senate of the University.


Doctor of the University honoris causa