Harold Freedman’s career as an artist commenced during the second World War when he was appointment as an official war artist for the Pacific Zone. Harold's fine paintings and drawings are now in the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Harold led in producing the magazine Wings for air force personnel on active duty. The publication served as a means to encourage the morale of the Air Force, Harold also encouraged younger artists by publishing their work in the magazine.

Having studied under Napier Waller, Harold was introduced to large-scale work, such as painted murals and mosaics. This led to the inspiration of large murals.

Harold was commissioned in the late 1960's by the R.A.A.F. On his first of his large-scale murals; this was a painted mural for the Australian War Memorial in Canberra some 4.5 metres deep by 60 metres across, in various sections. The mural marked the 50th anniversary of the R.A.A.F. and is a backdrop for the R.A.A.F. section of the Australian War Memorial.

The mural was the start of a moving away from the classical theme mural tradition in Australia where the past themes and symbols were drawn from the European classics; Harold wanted to explore visually the Australian experience and make his view of that accessible to all Australians.

Following that mural in 1972 Harold was appointed as The State Artist of Victoria (the only such position held by anyone in Australia). Harold further developed the Australian theme in The "Cavalcade of Transport" mural for concourse at the Spencer Street Railway Station.

The State Studio concept was viewed by Harold as the developing of something uniquely Australian and also as a way of introducing young artists to projects a learning and training situation. Over the next 11 years many students gained great experience at the studio and then moved on to their own work. With his two assistants David Jack & Joe Attard, Harold created some of Australia most renowned mosaics.

"Regional History of Geelong" for the new government offices in Geelong, this was the first major mosaic project to be created by the Studio and look two and a half years to complete. Harold created the full size colour painted cartoon while the assistants created the mosaic under Harold's direction.

"Legend of Fire" mosaic for the Eastern Hill Fire Brigade head quarters. The mural is some 5 floors high and faces Albert Street in East Melbourne. This is probably the most widely known of Harold's murals.

Following the Fire Mosaic the Studio commenced a major painted mural project for the VRC. It was titled the History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing painted in seven parts, each 9 metres high by 5.5 metres wide, to be installed within the Hill Stand at Flemington Racecourse, Melbourne. The State Studio ceased in 1983 and the mural and studio activities continued under the name of Harold Freedman & Associates.

In 1984 the VFL The Greats of Football mosaic was commenced and after another studio move from the City to Clifton Hill the mosaic was completed and installed at Waverley Stadium in 1986. Inspired by the painting and sculpture of Michael Angelo  Harold was sure a mural could be created that celebrated the human form and football. (Aussie rules) in a way that combined the attitude of the classic paintings and sculptures with the very Australian football characters.

In 1987 Harold stopped working at the studio through ill-health and the Racing Mural was continued by Joe Attard and David Jack and their associates finally completing the 7 panels in 1989.

Harold was given national recognition for his service to the arts with a Medal of the Order of Australia in 1989.

Harold then spent a few peaceful years at home and a few in a nursing home, passing away at 1am on Friday the 16th of July 1999.

Harold’s legacy will live on in his artworks for many generations to come.


A tribute to the former Victoria State Artist

Harold Freedman