Ray Crooke OAM

12 July 1922 — 5 December 2015

Renowned artist Ray Crooke had a long career with Swinburne, first as a student at the Swinburne Art School and then later as a teacher.

Ray commenced his time at Swinburne Art School in 1937, his studies interrupted when he enlisted in the army in 1940. After the war his art training resumed at Swinburne and he studied under Sir William Dargie, Roger James and Allan Jordon. He returned to Swinburne in the mid-50s when he was employed as an art teacher. Ray first began exhibiting his paintings, drawings and etchings in 1948.

Ray had many solo and group exhibitions in Australia and the UK. Following some years living with his family on Thursday Island and in Cairns, he returned to Melbourne in 1955 and again took up a teaching role at Swinburne.

During this time, his fame in the art world was increasing through successful exhibitions in Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Perth.

The family returned to tropical north Queensland in 1961, and from here Ray conducted painting trips around Cape York Peninsula, the Gulf Country, central Queensland, New Guinea, Tahiti, Fiji and Western Australia. His talent for depicting the vibrancy, colours and life of the tropics was recognised by fellow artist Sir Russell Drysdale in 1964, "Ray Crooke is a sensitive and original artist who paints Australia's tropical north as no one else has done."

Ray won the Archibald Prize in 1969 with his portrait of the writer George Johnston, and in 1993 was awarded Member of the Order of Australia for services to the visual arts, in particular landscape painting.

Ray was very proud of his time at Swinburne and of the friends that he made here. He commented that the best lit studio he has ever painted in was in the old Art School on the Hawthorn campus.

Two of Ray’s donated paintings are exhibited at Swinburne’s Hawthorn campus. He also has paintings in the Vatican Museum, University of Queensland and many galleries around Australia.

Ray was awarded an honorary doctorate from Swinburne in 2009.