Statement from Tweed Regional Gallery and Margaret Olley Art Centre’s Director, Susi Muddiman:
“In recent years Donald Friend’s relationships with underage children have been questioned, and it is now generally accepted that these relationships were inappropriate. The Tweed Regional Gallery in no way condones Friend’s behaviour. His contribution to Australian art history remains unquestioned and his friendship with Australian artists, including Margaret Olley, provide context to our exhibitions.
The photographic portrait of the deceased artist Donald Friend by Greg Weight was gifted to the Gallery by the artist and forms part of his series of portraits of significant Australian artists.
The portrait has been on display in the Gallery since 19 June 2016 and was soon due for rotation. The purpose of the exhibition featuring this portrait is to engage visitors and families with the Gallery’s collection. In the context of current community concern, this photographic portrait has become a distraction and has been removed from the exhibition, so we have used this as an opportunity to show visitors other quality works in the collection.
The four remaining copies of the Donald Friend diaries have been removed from the Gallery Shop and are no longer for sale at the Gallery.
Many national institutions have works by Donald Friend in their collections. The National Library of Australia published Friend’s diaries posthumously.
The Council of Australian Art Museum Directors (CAAMD) - the body of directors from each of the major metropolitan art galleries - are currently discussing a consistent national approach to the situation. Our Gallery will take their lead on the matter.
The Gallery apologises for any distress this situation may have caused members of the community, particularly those who have been affected by child abuse.”