Tweed Regional Art Gallery.
Tweed Regional Art Gallery. Daily News Archives

Portrait of paedophile artists removed, apology issued

THE Tweed Regional Gallery has removed a portrait of deceased artist and paedophile Donald Friend and its director issued an apology in response to intense criticism.

Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre director Susi Muddiman said four remaining copies of the Donald Friend diaries had also been pulled from the gallery shop and were no longer for sale.

The announcement came after a spate of criticism was directed at the gallery for displaying Greg Weight's photographic portrait of the deceased artist, Donald Friend.

Although community displeasure only recently surfaced, Ms Muddiman said in a statement the portrait had been gifted to the gallery and had been due for rotation soon, after being on display since June 19, 2016.

She said other national institutions also had works by Donald Friend in their collections and the National Library of Australia had published Friend's diaries posthumously.

But despite Mr Friend's talent as an artist, it has been his character that has been questioned. Ms Muddiman acknowledged community views of the artist had changed after his relationships with children were investigated.

In recent years Donald Friend's relationships with underage children have been questioned, and it is now generally accepted that these relationships were inappropriate,' Ms Muddiman said.

"The Tweed Regional Gallery in no way condones Friend's behaviour. His contribution to Australian art history remains unquestioned and his friendship with Australian artists, including Margaret Olley, provide context to our exhibitions.”

Ms Muddiman said the Council of Australian Art Museum Directors (CAAMD), the body of directors from each of the major metropolitan art galleries, was currently discussing a consistent national approach to the Donald Friend situation and the Tweed gallery would follow their lead.

"The gallery apologises for any distress this situation may have caused members of the community, particularly those who have been affected by child abuse,” she said.