Awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his services to cartooning in the Media in 1991, Tony Rafty is a living legend. Born in 1915, his artistic career has spanned over eight decades.
Interested in drawing from an early age, during the Depression Rafty worked as a golf caddy to help pay for art school. After meeting cartoonist Jimmy Bancks (creator of Ginger Meggs) his big break came when the Bulletin’s Billy Albert offered him casual work.
During World War II Rafty was sent to New Guinea, Borneo and Singapore as a war artist and journalist for the Australian Army. Throughout the war he witnessed allied landings in Borneo, the surrender of the Japanese in Singapore in 1945 and the subsequent release of POW’s from prison camps. The Australian War Memorial in Canberra holds his collection of work from these years.
Rafty started his career of sports caricaturing at the London Olympics in 1948 then went on to sketch every significant athlete that competed at Olympic or Commonwealth Games until 2004.
In 1948 Rafty accompanied ‘The Invincibles’ to England where his friendship with cricket players from both teams allowed him unique access and the resulting sketches are an insight into their characters. His cricket collection spans Walter Hammond in 1936 to Mitchell Johnson in 2007 and of course Sir Donald Bradman.
Rafty’s work has been exhibited all over the world and over 10,000 of his sketches have featured in newspapers and magazines. In 1981 his sketches of Victor Trumper, Walter Lindrum, Sir Norman Brookes and Darby Munro appeared on a series of Australia Post Stamps.
The cricket collection is a rare and remarkable collection of works from one of Australia’s artistic legends. The Rafty Retrospective is on display at The International Cricket Hall of Fame until December 2011.
95 year old Rafty recently opened the Rafty Retrospective and the event was featured in an ABC TV News piece on the day, click here to view the story.