Pub Rock

National Exhibition Register

  • Jimmy Barnes at the Coogee Bay Hotel 1984
    Grant Matthews Jimmy Barnes at the Coogee Bay Hotel 1984
    Type C photograph

About the exhibition

The pub rock phenomenon that spread across Australia throughout the 70s and 80s resulted in an evolution of music and culture that had a lasting impact on the nation’s identity. This vibrant (sometimes sweaty) exhibition of homegrown rock ‘n’ roll, punk and pop features works from the National Portrait Gallery collection alongside images by leading Australian music photographers.

Kicking off in the early 70s, pub rock developed into a uniquely Australian genre of blues-y, hard rock, characterised by catchy guitar riffs and drums. Experiences of going to gigs are entrenched in the memories of a vast amount Australians, and many towns have histories attached to music events. The influence of the pub rock sound and identity prevailed throughout the following decades and continues to do so.

The exhibition gives a glimpse into the careers of Australia’s most iconic rockers and the influences that shaped their music legacy: Pub rock has left a lasting influence on Australian music. The evolution of music and its impact on social issues is explored through portraits of pivotal artists from the 1960s to today.

ONE BOOKING LEFT - 23rd January 2023 – 9th April 2023



Artists and Curator


Bob King, Gary Ede, Juno Gemes, 'pling, Stu Spence, Tony Mott, Wendy McDougall, Rennie Ellis,Ern McQuillan, Warwick Orme, Michael Lawrence, Grant Matthews, Jim Rolon, Peter Brew-Bevan, Robin Sellick.

Available Dates and
Exhibition Details

Available dates
23/01/2023 - 09/04/2023
Exhibition size
Between 75-100 sq or running metres
Originating state
Organised by
National Portrait Gallery of Australia
$2,000 (inc. freight) - Contact to discuss
Web Site
Accompanying materials available
Education Kit, Exhibition Tour Manual, Installation Support Available, Interpretative/Didactic Panels, Invitations or Invitation Template, Labels, Media Kit, Public Program Opportunities, Public Workshops, Signage
Other materials
Playlists and music The exhibition has its own Spotify playlist which visitors can download via QR code in the gallery. This QR code and signage will be provided to all touring venues.
Primary contact
Tara James
Travelling Exhibitions Coordinator
National Portrait Gallery
02 6102 7069
Secondary contact
Sheridan Burnett
02 6102 7033
Jimmy Barnes at the Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews Gift of John McLean 2008