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Hal Missingham Hal Missingham i(A48249 works by) (a.k.a. Harold Missingham)
Born: Established: 8 Dec 1906 Claremont, Inner Perth, Perth, Western Australia, ; Died: Ceased: 7 Apr 1994 Perth, Western Australia,
Gender: Male
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Educated at Perth Boys' School, Hal Missingham later undertook an apprenticeship to the process engraver J. Gibney and Son in 1922. He also studied drawing at Perth Technical School, attended art schools in both Paris (1926) and London (1926-1932), and spent time in Canada working as a teacher and freelance artist. Returning to Australia in 1940, Missingham settled in Sydney and subsequently enlisted for war service with the AIF (1943-1945).

Co-founding the Studio of Realist Art (SORA) in 1944, Missingham continued to sustain his association with the cultural life of Sydney when he was appointed director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW) the following year. While Missingham has been described as an 'artist of wide experience and versatile talents', it was his significant contribution to the administrative growth of the gallery for which he is best remembered. During the twenty-six years he held this position, Missingham implemented an 'enlightened' approach to policies governing the gallery's collection. Encouraging the purchase of (contemporary) Australian art, he also organised the showing of international exhibitions and supervised the building of new extensions to the gallery. After retiring in 1971, Missingham published an autobiographical work which was based on the years he spent as gallery director, They Kill You in the End (1973).

Although Missingham worked with a variety of media, it was his initial 1933 foray into the medium of photography which subsequenttly shaped his artistic output. For Missingham, photography represented an alternative to the 'clumsy tools' of the 'painter's hand and brush'. As a result, major (pictorial) publications such as My Australia (1969), Close Focus : The Colour and Texture of a Continent (1970) and Design Focus (1978), feature a body of work that supports Missingham's assertion: 'The camera is my choice. Its Cyclopean eye penetrates everything in front of it without doubt or dissembling'.

Publishing throughout his career, Missingham contributed to exhibition catalogues, wrote introductions to books such as Max Dupain : Photographs (1948) and The Etchings of Sydney Ure Smith (1950), as well as producing various non-fiction titles. He also compiled and illustrated the prose and poems which appear in An Animal Anthology (1948).

Honoured for his contribution to the arts both overseas and in Australia, Missingham's numerous awards include the Coronation Medal (1953).

(Sources: McCulloch and McCulloch (eds), The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, 1994; Missingham, Close Focus, 1970.)

Most Referenced Works

Known archival holdings

National Library of Australia (ACT)
Art Gallery of New South Wales Research Library and Archive (NSW)
Last amended 7 Feb 2007 12:52:59
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