Untitled [Large head] (c.1985) [W/P]

Synthetic polymer paint and black fibre-tipped pen, 60 x 45.5
State Library of Victoria

This substantial work on paper was included in Arkley’s “Casual Works” exhibition in 1988: see now¬†Tattooed Head; and source material (1988 and earlier) [W/P]. As noted there, the central work on paper and other components of the source material from this section of the 1988 show were subsequently acquired by the National Gallery of Victoria.

The suggested date of 1985 for this drawing is based on both its technique and content. The doubled line technique Arkley developed in that year is used with some finesse here to suggest the figure’s hair and features, together with touches of black sprayed paint indicating volume.

The man represented appears to be Arkley’s colleague John Nixon, as shown in one of the photographs of him produced for the proposed ‘Portrait of the Artist and Five Friends’ project (1984 and later) [3/M]. For the Nixon photo, see Carnival in Suburbia, Fig.6.20 (extreme left photo).


  • Artist’s collection (A258); private collection, Melbourne; to State Library of Victoria, 2021


  • “Casual Works,” 200 Gertrude Street, Fitzroy, May 1988, and IMA, Brisbane, Oct.1988 (“Tattooed Head” section: see comments above)