Edmund Capon

I sometimes think my blog is at risk of becoming an obituaries column.

Anyway, I have just read of the death of Edmund Capon, the former Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, who I got to know a bit on visits to Australia in the late 1990s, when I was twice a judge (actually, I think I was the one and only judge) for the Moran portrait awards and once a guest of Gordon and Marilyn Darling, who knew him well.

Edmund struck me as a sort of folk hero: very dry, extremely knowledgeable, funny and very hospitable. We once played as partners in billiards and easily defeated whoever our opponents were. One could buy versions of his socks at the Art Gallery and he went on walking holidays with the Prime Minister. He was a candidate to be Director of the V&A in 1988, but claimed to have disqualified himself by saying that he wanted to direct it, rather than be a poodle of the Trustees.

It’s probably unlikely that someone so outspoken and intellectually unorthodox would nowadays be appointed as a museum director, but museums will be the poorer if they don’t have such powerful and effective (and unorthodox) advocates.


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