Portrait of Nick Cave (1999) by Howard Arkley (1951-1999). Synthetic polymer on canvas, commissioned with funds provided by L. Gordon Darling AC CMG, 1999. Arkley’s portrait of Nick Cave was the first work commissioned by the National Portrait Gallery and one of the last works he completed.
Nick Cave (or Nicholas Edward Cave) was born on 22nd September, in 1957 at Warracknabeal, Victoria, Australia. Cave is an Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor. He is best known for his musical work with his band Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds whose lyrical motifs revolve around the themes of religion, death, love and violence.
- In fact, in the early 2010s, Cave was dubbed by the New Musical Express (NME) magazine as “The grand lord of Gothic lushness“.
Earlier incarnations of his musical career included his time as front-man for The Boys Next Door and later for the post-punk band The Birthday Party in the early 1980s. Around this time, Cave began to use the Old Testament imagery within his lyrics about sin, curses and damnation.
Their single “Release the Bats” (1981), became highly influential in the Gothic genre. At that time, Cave also became a regular member of a Gothic club in London called The Batcave. A few fast facts on his early life:
- Cave’s father taught English and maths at the local school; and his mother was the librarian.
- In 1966, Cave joined the Cathedral choir of Wangaratta’s Holy Trinity Cathedral at the age of nine.
- In 1970 at the age of 13 he was expelled from Wangaratta High School and became a boarder and later a day student at Caulfield Grammar School in Melbourne.
- After his secondary schooling, Cave studied painting (Fine Art) at the Caulfield Institute of Technology (now Monash University), in 1976, but dropped out in 1977 to pursue music and began experimenting and using heroin around the time that he left art school.
- It was around this time that Cave’s father was killed in a car accident; and at the moment he was informed of this, his mother was bailing him out of a St. Kilda police station for a charge of burglary.
- Recently his song Red Right Hand was used on a successful TV advertisement to Visit South Australia using imagery to accompany his lyrics
Take a little walk to the edge of town and go across the tracks
Where the viaduct looms,
like a bird of doom As it shifts and cracks
Where secrets lie in the border fires,
in the humming wires
Hey man, you know you’re never coming back
Past the square, past the bridge, past the mills, past the stacks
On a gathering storm comes a tall handsome man
in a dusty black coat with a red right hand
… and as much as I love that song, maybe you might prefer me to be your Wild Rose… “If I show you the roses will you follow?”
(from “Where the Wild Roses Grow”)