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Born in Forest Glen near Buderim in Queensland in 1923. Hugh was a figurative impressionist painter of the outback. He is arguably Australia's greatest bush painter and undoubtedly one of the best painters of the horse in the world. Vibrant images of fiery steeds punching through the thirsty dust of a drought-ridden land are synonymous with ‘Sawrey.’

Sawrey was no stranger to the hardship of the Australian outback. He worked for many years as a stockman droving and mustering out past the Cooper and Diamantina, and as far west as W.A. Drought took his own mob of cattle in 1947 and he nearly broke his back splitting posts, ring-barking and clearing with his mother, on a small property of their own, a property too small, too harsh and unyielding so that eventually he packed his swag and went outback again. He scribbled sketches and painted on anything that he could find. In the earlier days he would take a piece of charcoal from the campfire and draw on the camp shovel. It was in this arid land that he developed a talent for painting bush scenes drawn from his personal experience, one that was evocative, sharp and foremost an honest look at the way the bush is. As Hugh said "I paint what I see.”

He painted all the facets of life he knew as a stockman. “In my paintings and drawings I have tried to be honest and factual above all things because Australia is an honest land" His desire was to show town's people what went on beyond the city lights. A billy boiling near a rolled out swag, the scent of gum trees and the gentle jingle of hobble chains were as familiar to him as the clear night sky. It is under this sky that he sat sketching and painting the events from a day's droving or a picture based on a mate's yarn. Lifetimes of outback stories are related by Sawrey in his works. His paintings and sketches are drawn from personal experience and understanding.

The charcoal sketches he did for the Courier Mail have become archival. A lifetime of outback stories is related by Sawrey in each of his works, with an honesty that is valued for its merit throughout Australia.

Hugh Sawrey was founder and chairman of The Stockman's Hall of Fame.
Awarded CBE for services to the arts 1989
The Art of Hugh Sawrey, John Hooper, Albion Press 1981
Top Horse Painters of the World; the Bulletin, 6 April 1982, Sydney
Outback, L Cavanaugh & H Sawrey, UQP 1993