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Gallery of Modern Art Brisbane includes paedophile Donald Friend artwork exhibition Margaret Olley

An art gallery has defended its decision to include the works of a known paedophile in a new exhibition.

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane this week debuted an exhibition on the late Margaret Olley.

The exhibition examines her life and work, and includes works of and about her from her friends and acquaintances while she was still alive.

Queensland’s flagship art gallery opted to include the work Olley’s good friend, problematic artist Donald Friend, a self confessed paedophile.

A spokesman for the art gallery told Daily Mail Australia it is not known if Olley was ever aware of Friend’s past, but that his work was included in the exhibition as a tribute to her legacy. 

Queensland’s flagship art gallery opted to include the work of problematic artist Donald Friend, a self confessed paedophile

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane this week debuted an exhibition on the late Margaret Olley (pictured)

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane this week debuted an exhibition on the late Margaret Olley (pictured)

While Friend was never prosecuted, his diaries – which were published posthumously in 2010 – went into extraordinary detail about his sexual preferences and frequent relationships with adolescent boys while living in Bali in 1960s and 1970s. 

Friend and Olley had a friendly relationship while they were both alive. Two small portraits by Friend of Olley hang side by side in the exhibition, along with a curator’s note acknowledging his past indiscretions. 

The note points out Friend’s confessions in his diaries, stating: ‘While Friend was never charged by authorities, Balinese victims have corroborated his ­accounts of these events.’

‘It is not known if Olley knew of these activities, however this ­information warrants declaration in a contemporary retelling of ­history,’ Queensland Art Gallery director Chris Saines told Daily Mail Australia.

While Friend was never prosecuted, his diaries - which were published posthumously - went into extraordinary detail about his sexual preferences and frequent relationships with adolescent boys while living in Bali in 1960s and 1970s

While Friend was never prosecuted, his diaries – which were published posthumously – went into extraordinary detail about his sexual preferences and frequent relationships with adolescent boys while living in Bali in 1960s and 1970s

A curators note points out Friend's confessions in his diaries, stating: 'While Friend was never charged by authorities, Balinese victims have corroborated his ­accounts of these events'

A curators note points out Friend’s confessions in his diaries, stating: ‘While Friend was never charged by authorities, Balinese victims have corroborated his ­accounts of these events’

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane this week debuted an exhibition on the late Margaret Olley

The Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane this week debuted an exhibition on the late Margaret Olley

Balinese boys were often the subjects of Friend’s works over the years, many of which hung in art galleries around the country for decades.

The National Gallery of Australia acquired sketches of naked boys ­by Friend in 1972 while he was still living in Bali, some titled ‘Act of Sex’ and another ‘Two Boys Resting’. 

Friend kept a detailed diary from the age of 14, chronicling his entire life in four volumes of work, totalling to more than half a million words.

Notable inclusions in his diaries included Olley, Brett Whiteley, Jeffrey Smart and Russell Drysdale. 

Friend rarely made any attempts to disguise the homo eroticism often featured both in his work and in his life, and depicted himself in his fourth journal as ‘a middle-aged pederast who’s going to seed’. 

Friend kept a detailed diary from the age of 14, chronicling his entire life in four volumes of work, totalling to more than half a million words and images

Friend kept a detailed diary from the age of 14, chronicling his entire life in four volumes of work, totalling to more than half a million words and images

Notable inclusions in his diaries included Olley, Brett Whiteley, Jeffrey Smart and Russell Drysdale

Notable inclusions in his diaries included Olley, Brett Whiteley, Jeffrey Smart and Russell Drysdale

In the 1960s, Friend detailed a night he spent with a 10-year-old boy, who later went on to seek compensation from National Library of Australia for republishing his identity. 

‘[He] spent the night with me. I hope life will continue forever to offer me delicious surprises… and that I will always be delighted and surprised,’ the entry read.

Friend and Olley had a friendly relationship while they were both alive

Friend and Olley had a friendly relationship while they were both alive

‘He goes about the act of love with a charmingly self-possessed grace: gaily, affectionately, and enthusiastically. And in these matters he’s very inventive and not at all sentimental for all the caresses.’

Mr Saines told The Australian the inclusion of the curator’s note was due to the galleries responsibility to address every facet of art making and the sometimes difficult history otherwise acclaimed artists have.

‘What is said… is simply stating facts that are now widely understood and well known in the Australian art world,’ Mr Saines said.

‘There’s no new information being declared here, no secret being uncovered as it were. 

‘We feel that because the world has a very different perspective on serious misconduct on the part of artists in the course of their lives, this is something that in the 21st century is part of the bigger story that museums need from time to time to tell.’ 

‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’ is an exhibition currently showing at GOMA until 13 October

‘Margaret Olley: A Generous Life’ is an exhibition currently showing at GOMA until 13 October

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk