Jake Hart

Pro Hart: An Outback Legend

20th July 2018

Pro Hart was a painter, a father, a husband. He travelled the world, but stayed in Broken Hill. He painted almost every day of his life but was disliked, even mocked by the “art mafia”. He met and was admired by Princes, Presidents and movie stars, but he was a shy man who preferred the company of his mates. He collected Rolls Royce’s, Rembrandt’s and Picasso’s, but loved Chinese takeaways and a cup of tea.

Pro Hart was born in Broken Hill, NSW, Australia in 1928. His early years were spent on “Larloona” a sheep station, around 130kms from Broken Hill, learning by correspondence school. He was drawing from a young age, illustrating his homework at seven and progressing steadily in his talent.

He continued to paint and draw after moving back to Broken Hill in his early twenties, even as he worked the long underground shifts in a mine. Indeed, the hard work and the characters in the mine provided much inspiration for the narrative category of his painting styles.

In 1960, at the age of 32 he married Raylee June Tonkin, 19, and together they had five children. He continued to paint and took art classes to help formalise his technique. He was discovered by Kim Bonython, a gallery owner from Adelaide, in 1962 and his popularity as an outback artist began to climb.

Collection after collection would sell out and Pro began travelling the world. He met Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers and his art resides in large international collections.

His creative spirit knew no bounds, experimenting with “performance art” years before it became fashionable; dropping paint from hot air balloons, creating ice sculptures and even using a cannon to distribute paint on his chosen medium.

Perhaps his most famous moment came with a series of television carpet commercials. He continued to experiment with art techniques all his life. Mainly working in oils and acrylics, Pro used any tool or method to achieve the desired outcome for his work.

He drew upon techniques of layering, chiaroscuro, glazing, scumbling, scratching and Alla prima. Pro was also a sculptor working with welded steel, bronze and ceramics.

In 1976 he was awarded an MBE for his services to art in Australia. In 1982 he received an Honorary Life Membership of Society International Artistique for outstanding artistic achievement. This is granted to only one artist per continent and in 1983 he received an Australian Citizen of the Year Award.

Outside of painting, Pro collected vintage cars and a variety of motorbikes. He lifted weights to keep fit, was an “A” grade pistol shooter, loved music and inventing different kinds of engines and machines.

On March 28th at 2.45am Pro Hart died at his home in Broken Hill NSW.


1928 Born in Broken Hill N.S.W.
1958 Commenced painting full time.
1962 First Solo Exhibition at Bonython Gallery, Adelaide, South Australia.
1963 Commenced Eureka Stockade and Captain Cook series of paintings.
1973 First Solo Exhibition, Qantas House, London.
Represented at the Dusseldorf International Art Exhibition.
Illustrated “Poems of Henry Lawson” – Ure Smith.
1974 Illustrated “Poems of Banjo Patterson” – Ure Smith.
Larloona Exhibition, Sydney.
1975 Traveling Group Exhibition, Los Angeles, New York, London.
Solo Show, Australian Commission, Hong Kong.
Commenced Hong Kong Series of paintings and watercolors.
1976 Awarded M.B.E.
Hong Kong Show, Sydney.
Solo Show, Raffles Hotel, Singapore.
Solo Show, Tokyo American Club, Tokyo.
1977 Asian series exhibition, Sydney.
“The Art of Pro Hart” published, Rigby Australia.
1978 Solo Show Hobart, Tasmania.
Exhibited Grand Rapids Art Museum, Michigan in association with Grand Rapids World Affairs Council, America.
Solo Exhibition Hong Kong, Wagner Art Gallery.
Sydney Beach Scenes, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1979 New York Exhibition, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1980 Exhibition, Leivak Gallery, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Exhibition, Cairo, Egypt.
Israel and Egypt Series, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1981 Town Exhibition, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1982 Honorary Life Member of the Society International Artistique.
Exhibition Hong Kong.
Exhibition “Outback Christmas”, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
Illustrated “Christmas Story” Rigby Australia.
1983 Citizen of the Year Award, Broken Hill, N.S.W., Australia.
1984 Exhibition, Hong Kong.
1988 Australian Bicentennial Exhibition, Hong Kong.
1989 Exhibition “Beach Scenes and Other Works”, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1990 Visions of Gallipoli, Infinite Art Gallery, Melbourne.
Recent Paintings, “Flower Series”, Wagner Art Gallery, Sydney.
1994 Serving Brother – The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem
1995 Honorary Life Governor – St John
2001 Family Exhibition, World Heritage Art, Gold Coast International, Queensland
2002 Masks Exhibition, House of Phillips Fine Art, Sydney
2003 Opening of the Pro Hart Retrospective Touring Exhibition, Monash Gallery of Art, City of Monash

International Collections

Harold Mertz, U.S.A.
Lyndon Johnson, U.S.A.
Prince Phillip, London.
Cathay Pacific Airlines, Hong Kong.
Menachem Begin, Israel.
Madam Jihan El Sadat, Egypt
Warsaw National Gallery, Poland.

Australian Collections

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.
State Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania.
War Memorial, Canberra.
University of N.S.W.
Macquarie University, N.S.W.
Art Gallery of N.S.W.
Sydney Opera House
State Gallery of South Australia
Kim Bonython, South Australia
QANTAS Airlines
Margaret Carnegie, N.S.W.