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Hal Holman OL OAM: PNG honours a unique contributor to its iconography

Crucifixion This is a special week for Hal Holman. But first, let me recap his story.

After war service as a commando in New Guinea, which included operating behind Japanese lines on the mainland and being attached to the American marines who landed in Rabaul, Hal used his demobilisation grant to earn a Diploma of Art at East Sydney Tech.

Not long after he travelled to the sub-continent to spend three years as art director for the Advertising Corporation of India in Calcutta, Madras and Bombay.

Upon his return to Sydney, Hal spent the next six years designing for the film industry: producing sets and working as an animator on thirteen short films.

During these years he began portrait painting and also created a number of murals including four at the Shoal Bay Country Club Hotel in NSW – who, upon the old building being demolished recently, had him recerate the murals for the new hotel.

Somare Hal moved to Port Moresby, initially working as an illustrator with the Department of Education, where he and I worked together for the first time – Hal designing and drawing, me writing and editing. He was then promoted to the position of Senior Artist for the PNG Government, in which role he designed the National Crest and was influential in the design of the National Flag.

Hal also designed and illustrated innumerable maps, posters, pamphlets and publications while continuing to produce numerous portraits and paintings of the bird of paradise. During this time he designed the uniforms for the PNG Constabulary Band.

After leaving PNG in the early 1970s he turned to sculpture, producing a one-tonne metal National Crest for the PNG Supreme Court building, bronzes of all six PNG Prime Ministers since Independence, a bust of Queen Elizabeth II and many examples of public sculpture around Sydney.

Pastel Warrior Now in his late eighties, Hal is still hard at work. His most recent sculpture, of the late General John Baker for the Australian Department of Defence, will soon be unveiled in Canberra. And more commissions continue to flow, including from PNG.

On Friday, surrounded by his family and his mates, Hal will be formally invested as an Officer of the Order of Logohu by the PNG High Commissioner to Australia, Charles Lepani. Strangely, but fittingly, the short ceremony will be conducted at the Mido Restaurant in Sydney – where Hal and his comrades meet from time to time to discuss the state of the world.

Crest Hal received recognition for his work by the Australian Government five years ago when he received the Order of Australia medal, and now he is being honoured by his second country, PNG. It’s apt that Logohu is the Motuan word for bird of paradise, the beauty of which Hal has captured and shared with so many people and the grandeur of which he has highlighted in the PNG National Crest.

So very well done, dear friend, so very well done.

Artwork: [1] Self portrait. [2] Detail from bronze of Sir Michael Somare. [3] Pastel Warrior. [4] National Crest of PNG.


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Eric Lindgren

Hal, You pop in and out of my memory from time to time.

I appreciate the times we worked together during those pre-Independence days, and remember well the Bird of Paradise sculpture you created that is now at the UPNG.

Jade Tripp, Neville Moderate and others come to mind. And Vali Herzer - still arting in London. Good to read that you still retain the passion.

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