Bill Leak

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For the cricketer and footballer, see Bill Leak (sportsman).

Bill Leak (born Desmond Robert Leak, 1956) cartoonist for the Australian.

Leak has entered the Archibald Prize at least 13 times but has never won it. These included portraits of Don Bradman in 1989, Malcolm Turnbull in 1994, Graham Richardson in 1995, Tex Perkins in 1997, Gough Whitlam in 1998, Sir Les Patterson in 2000 and Robert Hughes in 2001. He won the Packing Room Prize twice (for Tex Perkins and Sir Les Patterson) and also won the People's Choice Award for Malcolm Turnbull. He "is widely regarded by good judges as the best painter never to have won the Archibald prize, an omission many of them regard as one of the greatest travesties of Australian art".[1]

He was interviewed in the 2005 Peter Berner documentary about the Archibald Prize called Loaded Brush. That year he published his first novel, Heart Cancer.

On 18 October 2008 he sustained serious head injuries in a fall[2] and, while his outlook was initially poor, he recovered physically and mentally.[1]

Leak's TV series, Face Painting, in which he paints portraits of people who have died, went to air on the ABC in November 2008.[1] Portraits painted for this show include Australian actor June Salter, musician Bon Scott and Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins.

He lives on the Central Coast of New South Wales.[3]


In 2007 he was criticised for portraying the then-leader of the opposition, Kevin Rudd, as Tintin (accompanied by Snowy).[4] This was resolved by Leak promising to not profit from any sales of cartoons from this series.[5]

A cartoon commenting on the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, published in The Australian in December 2015, generated controversy over its allegedly racist content, depicting poor Indian villagers eating solar panels delivered by the United Nations[6]

In 2016 The Australian published a Leak cartoon which was criticised as racist because it depicted an adult Aboriginal father holding a can of beer and not knowing the name of his son, who was being punished for wrongdoing. Many took offence at the depiction of bad parenting in Aboriginal communities being the cause of abuse of Aboriginal children in custody.[7][8]

On September 21 2016, The Australian published a Leak cartoon criticised for depicting advocates of same-sex marriage, portrayed by a platoon wearing rainbow uniforms, as the Waffen-SS, captioned "Waffen-SSM".[9] This lead to accusations of homophobia, and seeming lack of knowledge that the Nazi party rounded up and executed over 15,000 homosexuals.[10][11]


  1. ^ a b c Coombs, Roger (November 29, 2008). "Bill Leak ode to fallen". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved August 5, 2016. 
  2. ^ Cartoonist Bill Leak seriously injured in balcony fall, ABC News (Australia), Oct. 19, 2008
  3. ^ 1001 Australians You Should Know, Toby Creswell, Samantha Trenoweth
  4. ^ Blistering Barnacles! Tintin 'parody' threat, The Daily Telegraph, 2 June 2007
  5. ^ Wilson, Peter (2007-06-04). "Leak in the clear over Tintin". Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  6. ^ Basu, Indrani (2015-12-14). "This Australian Newspaper Published An Unbelievably Racist Cartoon About Indians". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2015-12-15. 
  7. ^ "Bill Leak cartoon an 'attack' on Aboriginal people, Indigenous leader says". ABC News. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Artistic Arse: The Great Racist Works Of Cartoonist Bill Leak". New Matilda. 4 August 2016. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  9. ^ "WaFFeN-SSM". 21 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  10. ^ "Cartoonist Bill Leak portrays LGBTI lobby as Nazi soldiers". OutInPerth. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 
  11. ^ "For Bill Leak's benefit: Why it's not okay to compare gay people to Nazis". SBS. 21 September 2016. Retrieved 21 September 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Jennifer Little
People's Choice Award
for Malcolm Turnbull
Succeeded by
Josonia Palaitis
Preceded by
Paul Newton
Packing Room Prize
for Tex Perkins
Succeeded by
Kerrie Lester
Preceded by
Deny Christian
Packing Room Prize
for Are you with me? - (Sir Les Patterson)
Succeeded by
Paul Newton