National Portrait Gallery launches new exhibition celebrating Australia’s pub-rock era

Subscribe to Mixdown Magazine

National Portrait Gallery launches new exhibition celebrating Australia’s pub-rock era

The exhibition, which kicked off at the National Portrait Gallery over the weekend and will run until February 2021, is set to trace the story of the biggest bands, venues and personalities of Australia’s pub-rock heyday from its 1960s origins through to the start of the 1990s. 


In addition to celebrating the commercial victories of acts such as AC/DC, INXS and Kylie Minogue, the exhibition will also recognise the political activism of icons like Midnight Oil, Yothu Yindi and Paul Kelly, as well as the stories of the women who navigated the male-dominated scene throughout this era, told through a curated photo set from  ‘pling (Kevin Prideaux).


Many of the images exhibited come from the National Portrait Gallery’s own archives, with other noted music photographers such as Wendy McDougall and Tony Mott also contributing their own works to the exhibit.


Specialist music photographers Stu Spence and Bob King’s works will also be spotlighted in The Mosh Pit; a collection of anarchic, steezy shots of live venues and sweaty concerts from around Australia. 


The National Portrait Gallery’s Director, Karen Quinlan AM, expressed the importance of exhibits like Pub Rock during the pandemic, saying “The very essence of live music is about people coming together, in close confines, to listen and celebrate a common interest. We wanted to capture some of the excitement and energy of the pub rock scene.


“For those who cannot travel outside their areas at present, the majority of portraits in the exhibition will be available online as well as videos and a curated Spotify playlist. In coming weeks we will launch a live streamed event together with a series of virtual tours and talks for visitors to participate in online.” 



Pub Rock is open at the National Portrait Gallery from September 5, 2020 – 14 February, 2021.

Revisit our own guide to the greatest albums of the pub rock era.