Born Melbourne, Australia 1924, died Cottles Bridge, Victoria 1990
Clifton Pugh was a passionate conservationist, painter and printmaker, whose landscape imagery expressed his deep awareness of ecological diversity and the cycles of nature. Following his studies at the National Gallery School in Melbourne (1947–50), in 1951 Pugh moved to Cottles Bridge (north-east of Melbourne), where he helped found the Dunmoochin Artists’ Society in 1953.
Pugh’s experience of outback areas of Australia informed the development of a personal blend of expressionism, which evolved from detailed observations of the bush in the early 1950s to more stylised and abstracted compositions reflecting his intense spiritual and emotional attachment to the land.
Pugh was a notable portrait painter, and won the Archibald Prize for portraits of R.A. Henderson (1965), Sir John McEwen (1971) and Gough Whitlam (1972). He was awarded an Order of Australia in 1985, and in 1990 was the Australian War Memorial’s official artist at the 75th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing. In 1989 Pugh set up the Dunmoochin Foundation which provided residences for artists at the artist’s property.
Pugh’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions in the United States and Europe, and he exhibited regularly in Australia during his career. His works are represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, all state galleries and many regional and university galleries.