Works from the Donald Friend Collection
27 October 2013


(1915 - 1989)

ink and wash on paper

36.0 x 26.5 cm

signed, dated and inscribed upper right: Donald. 41 / Tifé Watea: / Charlie Sailor.

$6,000 - 10,000
Sold for $6,600 (inc. BP) in Auction 31 - 27 October 2013, Sydney

Retrospective Exhibition to celebrate his Sixtieth Year as an Artist, Holdsworth Galleries, Sydney, 18 March – 26 April 1975, cat. 16
Donald Friend Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 9 February – 25 March 1990; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 14 April – 6 June 1990; and Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart, 26 June – 19 August 1990 (label attached verso)


Pearce, B., Donald Friend, 1915–1989: Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1990, cat. 13, p. 39 (illus., as'Tifé Watea: Charlie Sailor')

Catalogue text

When Friend left home in 1932 he travelled north to Queensland, jumping 'rattler' trains and making his way, living the existence of a hobo, to Cairns. Here he found his first real experience of the alternative cultures that would continue to entrance him throughout his lifetime. At Malaytown in Cairns he became adopted by the Sailor family, whose patriarchal head was Charlie, portrayed in this drawing. The Sailor family were Torres Strait Islanders who worked pearling luggers between Cairns and Thursday Island, and who treated the artist as one of their own. After leaving West Africa at the end of 1939, following the declaration of war in Europe, Friend stayed with them again until early 1942, when he returned to Sydney and joined the army.1

1. Pearce, B., Donald Friend, 1915-1989: Retrospective, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1990, p. 39