National Portrait Gallery launches exhibition to celebrate Australian pub rock

Open now for viewing online or onsite

A new exhibition celebrating Australian pub rock is launching at the National Portrait Gallery this weekend.

Opening today (September 5), the exhibition showcases the people, places and sounds that are synonymous with Australia’s pub rock movement of the ‘70s and ‘80s. The content is drawn largely from the National Portrait Gallery’s collection and bolstered by works from leading photographers, including Tony Mott and Wendy McDougall.

Pub Rock will feature publicity images, portraits, live shots and behind the scenes photographs of landmark Australian artists such as The Easybeats, AC/DC, INXS, Nick Cave and Kylie Minogue.


The exhibition also includes a focus on the activism championed by artists such as Yothu Yindi, Midnight Oil and Paul Kelly, and highlights the “strength of women in a traditionally male-dominated scene.”

For those who are unable to attend the event in person due to lockdown restrictions, the National Portrait Gallery is supporting the exhibition with further online content, including videos, playlists and digital access to portraits. Listen to the curated Spotify playlist below.

“The very essence of live music is about people coming together, in class confines, to listen and celebrate a common interest,” Director of the National Portrait Gallery, Karen Quinlan said. “We wanted to capture some of the excitement and energy of the pub rock scene.”

Portraits and photographs are now available to view online. Categories include ‘Mosh Pit’ (celebrating live performances of the ‘70s and ‘80s), ‘Protest’ (highlighting the activism of the same era), and a special ‘Capital Cool’ collection dedicated to Canberra’s vibrant live music scene at the height of pub rock.


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