Richard Lewer on Brian “The Skull” Murphy and Billy “The Texan” Longley

30 Sep 2018

After reading Brian “The Skull” Murphy’s autobiography, Richard Lewer got in touch with the retired detective to speak about his experiences first hand. His conversation with Murphy and a subsequent meeting with Billy “the Texan” Longley (charged in 1973 for the murder of the Painters & Dockers secretary Pat Shannon) resulted in a series of paintings about this violent chapter in the history of the Painters & Dockers Union, when its unofficial but widely known motto was, ‘We catch and kill our own.’

The series includes portraits of some of the key players, including Longley, Murphy and the vividly named Jack ‘Putty Nose’ Nicholls, who followed Shannon as Victorian secretary of the Painters & Dockers, and met a similarly violent end.

Artworks featured:
Richard Lewer Billy ‘The Texan’ Longley 2011
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide
Richard Lewer Brian ‘The Skull’ Murphy 2011
oil on canvas
Courtesy of the artist and Hugo Michell Gallery, Adelaide