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Three Well Known Australians: the iconic art exhibition leaving locals guessing

Telissa RyderSound Telegraph
The ‘Three Well Known Australians’ by Martin Shaw.
Camera IconThe ‘Three Well Known Australians’ by Martin Shaw. Credit: Supplied

An interactive art exhibition is wrapping up in Kwinana, with people encouraged to continue guessing the Three Well Known Australians in Martin Shaw’s artwork at the Koorliny Arts Centre this month.

The well-known painting has been touring Australia since 1983 and has been shown at 240 venues, with the intention of it continuing for generations to come.

Accompanying the artwork are yearbooks with previous guesses from Aussies over the years. There is a yearbook for Kwinana residents to record their guess in at the Koorliny Arts Centre until November 10.

Yearbooks with the public’s opinions of who the three figures are dating from 1983 to 2019.
Camera IconYearbooks with the public’s opinions of who the three figures are dating from 1983 to 2019. Credit: supplied

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Letters of opinions from well-known figures are also included, including former PM Scott Morrison and Premier Mark McGowan.

In the Premier’s letter from July 2021, he said the red figure is ‘clearly a storyteller’ and pointed towards Indigenous artist Rover Thomas Joolama.

Scott Morrison had a different take on who the three well known Aussies were.
Camera IconScott Morrison had a different take on who the three well known Aussies were. Credit: supplied

“He is responsible for raising the profile of Indigenous art both nationally and internationally and was one of the first Indigenous artists to represent Australia in the Venice Biennale,” he said.

The Premier said the ‘hulking blue figure’ could only be AFL superstar and two-time Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe, while WA-based plastic surgeon Fiona Wood was the green figure holding the umbrella.

“Dr Wood pioneered burns treatment techniques responsible for saving many lives, including 28 patients who suffered burns covering up to 92 per cent of their body as a result of the 2002 Bali bombings,” he said.

“It is fitting that she is holding an umbrella over another figure — this symbolises her driving motivation; the care of others.”

The only figure that has been revealed is “Pea” the dog, featured on the right-hand side of the painting, who died in May 1991.

The exhibition will travel to Mandurah Museum next, where it will be open to the public from November 15 to December 12.

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