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Vale Edmund Capon AM OBE

Monday 18 March, 2019

Edmund Capon rides a bicycle on the wall of the ancient city of Xi’an on 23 October 2010. Photo by Kevin Lee/Getty Images for Good Weekend

It is with immense sadness that we note the death of Edmund Capon AM OBE, director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales for 33 years from 1978 to 2011. Edmund’s dedicated service to the Gallery, which he transformed during his tenure into one of the most-loved cultural institutions in Australia, was extraordinary. Indeed, the strong base from which the Gallery operates today, and is growing from, can directly be attributed to the foundations laid during Edmund’s time as director. We extend our heartfelt condolences to Edmund’s family and close friends, in particular his wife Joanna, his two children, three step-children and his grandchildren. Edmund will be deeply missed by current and former members of Gallery staff; former and present Trustees; members, volunteers and supporters, and by artists and the broader Gallery community. Edmund made an indelible impact on the cultural life of Australia and beyond. His legacy is an enduring one.

“Edmund was one of the most outstanding leaders I have worked with in my career. He was inspirational, decisive, innovative and totally on top of all the issues relevant to the Gallery at the time. Everything he did was done with love for, and devotion to, the Gallery. All of us who treasure the Gallery should be deeply grateful to him. I salute him and send my deepest sympathies to Joanna and his family for his passing.” David Gonski, President, Board of Trustees

“Edmund served our community as a tireless and enthusiastic advocate for art and artists. The continuing evolution of the Art Gallery of New South Wales under his leadership as an internationally significant art museum is testament to his spectacular success in this endeavour. Personally, I greatly appreciate and will always treasure the support Edmund extended to me after I became director in 2012. At one of our regular lunches at the end of last year he urged me to continue my work ensuring our Gallery remains a bastion of ideas and open thinking as well as a treasure house of fabulous works of art — a responsibility I look forward to honouring with Edmund firmly in my mind. I extend my sympathies to Joanna at this sad time and acknowledge the wonderful contribution she also makes, both to our Gallery and to the broader community.” Michael Brand, Director, Art Gallery of New South Wales

We are most grateful to Wayne Tunnicliffe, head curator, Australian art, who has written a moving account of Edmund’s time as director of the Gallery which now sits on our website.