Spotlight on Sir William Dobell in major arts festival

Published on 30 May 2022

Jessica Dowdell Web.jpg

A fascinating insight into the life of the Lake Macquarie’s Sir William Dobell will be amplified through a dramatic performance set to debut at Warners Bay Theatre, as part of the city’s annual Dobell Festival.

Producer Adam Liberman said the five-man play, called ‘What’s Art Got to Do With it? The Dobell Case’, explored the challenges Sir William Dobell faced when he was awarded the Archibald Prize in 1943.

“That prize was awarded to Dobell for his portrait of Joshua Smith and created a national controversy as to whether it was a portrait at all,” Mr Liberman said.

“The reading takes you on the emotional journey of both Dobell and Smith in dealing with that controversy and what better venue than Warner’s Bay Theatre to explore that journey.”

“The cast includes Danny Adcock, Jonathan Elsom, Andrew McFarlane and Linden Wilkinson – all well known to Australian audiences!”

Lake Macquarie City Council Lifelong Learning and Audience Engagement Coordinator Jessica Dowdell said the month-long Dobell Festival in June will explore art through workshops, entertainment, events, storytelling and much more.

“The festival honours the work of Dobell and allows creatives to engage with the community and explore their passions,” Ms Dowdell said.

More than 40 events will go ahead right across the city, with many to be held at artistic hubs like the Museum of Art and Culture, yapang and the Multi-Arts Pavilion, mima.

“We’re really proud to host such an artistic and vibrant city where creatives from near and far can come and gain inspiration for their work,” Ms Dowdell said.

“The festival also boasts fun trivia events, a lake cruise, singalongs and family art making.”

Visitors can gain further insight into Sir William Dobell, one of Australia’s most celebrated portrait and landscape artists of the 21st century, by touring his Wangi Wangi home where he settled in 1945 and lived until his passing in 1970.

The Dobell Festival is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW.

More information about ticketed and non-ticketed events can be found online at

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