A statement from Harold Mitchell
Chairman, National Gallery of Australia

9 February 2004

Brian Kennedy brings a passion to the Arts that is particularly evident in the way he speaks so personally about it, and the way acquisitions at the National Gallery can be the subject of popular conversation – whether it is a major work by John Olsen, Rover Thomas, William Robinson, David Hockney or Lucian Freud.

He made it his business to get to know and understand not only the arts in Australia but the artists, especially indigenous artists, and the circumstances in which they live and work.

He sought to share his vision for the National Gallery by increasing the program of loans, placing iconic works of art in so many of our regional cities and towns and by launching the National Gallery’s website.

He has given real meaning to the Gallery’s national and international mandate.

To his critics, Brian Kennedy, coming from outside Australia to such an important national position, was a risk – but for many like me who admire his passion for the Gallery’s collections and exhibitions, he was a risk well worth taking.

He will be missed.

On behalf of the Council and Foundation at the National Gallery of Australia, I wish him well.