He won the Young Contemporaries Prize in 1967 and travelled to Japan, Papua New Guinea, France, Vienna and Budapest. He returned to Australia in the 1980s. His paintings are in many galleries in Australia and overseas.
Born in Sydney, New South Wales, he studied at the National Art School in the 1960s. He was a founding member of the Ubu Films collective in the late 1960s, with whom he made numerous experimental film works, and he also worked for the ABC as an editor, cartoonist, filmmaker and scenic painter before his first major solo exhibition with Watters Gallery in Sydney. He was a friend of Brett Whiteley and participated in the famous Yellow House activities. He has shown in more than seventy group exhibitions and had over fifty solo exhibitions, as well as illustrating numerous books. He won the Archibald Prize in 1993 with a portrait of Tom Thompson. He also painted a portrait of Brett Whiteley's ex-wife Wendy Whiteley for the Archibald Prize, but that entry did not win. He was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 2009 and 2012.
He spent six months in Paris in 1973. In the 1980s he spent time in France, Spain, Italy and Holland.
During a residency at the Karolyi Foundation, in Vence in southern France he met Hungarian sculptor Judith Englert, and spent a year in Budapest with her before returning to Australia. They eventually settled in the seaside suburb of Bundeena, south of Sydney, in 1987. During the late 1980s his style (figurative, allegoric, lyric, moody) crystallized with the Bundeena paintings, the Queen series and the D. H. Lawrence series. This last is based on Lawrence's novel Kangaroo, which was inspired by Lawrence's stay at Thirroul, near Wollongong. Shead became interested in Lawrence after he came across letters by the author on an expedition to the Sepik Highlands in Papua New Guinea in 1968. The 21st century saw him branch out into a complex set of paintings celebrating the Ern Malley series of hoax poems. Shead is represented in the National Gallery of Australia and all state galleries, many regional galleries and numerous private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally.
for Tom Thompson
- Peter Mudie - Sydney Underground Movies: Ubu Films 1965-1970 (UNSW Press, 1997)
- Picture this: Steve Meacham, Brisbane Times, 23 February 2008
- Search Garry Shead on Amazon
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