Art enthusiasts and fans of the late Australian entertainer Barry Humphries AO CBE are in for a treat as a remarkable collection of his previously unseen artworks takes centre stage at the Adelaide Festival Centre’s Festival Theatre Galleries.
This unique exhibition, titled “By Barry Humphries: From the David Dridan Family Collection,” offers a glimpse into the lesser-known artistic talents of Humphries, showcasing his self-portraits, iconic South Australian landscapes, and portraits of his close friend, the renowned South Australian artist David Dridan OAM.
“This collection of artworks and supporting paraphernalia represents 67 years of friendship, family gatherings and some very amusing moments. It is with great joy that we the Dridan family, provide this collection of works to be displayed for the pleasure of all and to remember the varied extent of creativeness that was, Barry Humphries,” David Dridan OAM says.
The exhibition, which will run from November 17, 2023, to April 13, 2024, provides a rare opportunity to explore the visual art world of Barry Humphries, best known for his alter ego, Dame Edna Everage.
Humphries, a beloved Australian figure, had a multifaceted creative career that extended beyond the stage and screen.
The artworks on display are drawn from the private collection of South Australian artist David Dridan, who shared a deep bond with Humphries and a mutual passion for landscape painting.
Over their remarkable decades-long friendship, Humphries painted an impressive 17 portraits of Dridan. David Dridan, a notable artist in his own right, has been featured in numerous exhibitions, and his works are housed in prestigious institutions such as the National Gallery of Australia and the Art Gallery of South Australia.
One of the highlights of the exhibition is the portrayal of iconic South Australian landscapes, including the Murray River, Clare Valley, and Strathalbyn, capturing the beauty of the region through Humphries’ artistic lens. Additionally, the portraits of David Dridan provide a unique insight into their enduring friendship and shared creative journey.
Barry Humphries had a longstanding connection with the Adelaide Festival Centre, with a particular affection for Her Majesty’s Theatre.
This relationship began in 1953 when a 19-year-old Humphries graced the stage of The Maj in “The Wind of Heaven” as part of the Australian Universities Drama Festival. Throughout the years, Humphries fondly referred to it as his favourite theatre. Notably, Barry Humphries also served as the Artistic Director of the Adelaide Cabaret Festival in 2015, leaving an indelible mark on the arts scene in South Australia.
“Not only did Barry Humphries love performing in Adelaide, but he also loved painting here with his friend, fellow artist, mentor, and sitter South Australian landscape painter David Dridan,” Adelaide Festival Centre Performing Arts Collection Coordinator, Helen Trepa says.
“Come and see how Humphries painted himself, Dridan and the Adelaide countryside in his distinct signature style and sense of humour. We would especially love to thank David and Sarah Dridan and their wonderful family for working with Adelaide Festival Centre to make this very special exhibition happen. t’s like peeking behind the Hollywood curtain of his mind to see the personal side of Barry Humphries the artist. Vale Barry Humphries.”
Barry Humphries Collection
Where: Adelaide Festival Theatre.
When: The exhibition will be open to the public from Friday 17 November until Saturday 13 April 2024. Open to view Thursdays and Saturdays 10am – 3pm and during Festival Theatre performance times.