close icon

Production   /  Jenny Hicks


An intimate look at the life and work of eccentric and reclusive artist Dale Frank striving for his next exhibition.


Impact areas





  • DIRECTOR Jenny Hicks

  • PRODUCER Jo Austin



In a few short months, Dale Frank - Australia’s foremost contemporary and conceptual artist - Will hold his 40th exhibition at Sydney’s exclusive Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Over five decades, Dale has wrought a celebrated and notorious career: his biomorphic abstracts, rock-chic installations and signature use of wildly-pigmented varnish have seen his unique opus described as “majestic and strange”. A highly successful and prolific abstract artist, Dale’ work has been widely collected all over the world and through this intimate we learn what it means and takes to be a professional artist at the top of the game. The stakes are high, the art world is fickle and Dale spends as lavishly as he creates.

Dale’s paintings fund his other projects: His ever evolving rural estate where he lives among the largest private Natural History collection in Australia and the fifty hectare exotic arid zone Botanical Garden he is creating. Roslyn Oxley is Dale’s long-time collaborator and through her we learn about the cut-throat business of the art world.

Throughout the trials and tribulations of preparing for an exhibition, Dale’s inner demons battle and he is in chronic and debilitating pain, but his capacity for hard work bulldozes through and ultimately we have an inspirational story of a young boy from the back-blocks who dreamt up a big life and went out and made it happen.

Dale is very high functioning neuro-diverse, he is a workaholic and a socially phobic hermit. The last thing in the world Dale wants to do is go to Sydney but when the story culminates in the opening night of the art exhibition, Dale must attend and face the dreaded public to sell his wares.

For over 40 years Dale has successfully pursued his life’s work and dreams with talent, ambition and dogged determination. Now, due to illness, Dale’s working life is coming to an end and his legacy is at hand. . Will Dale’s 40th exhibition of paintings at Roslyn Oxley’s gallery be his last?

Support this project

14.00% funded
  • $400,000.00

  • $56,000.00

  • August 2022

  • 5

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Anonymous $6,000.00
Anonymous $5,000.00
Anonymous $5,000.00
Anonymous $20,000.00
Anonymous $20,000.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Why do Australians value artworks, but not artists? We have a conflicted relationship with our under-respected creatives, and no national cultural policy strategy. More Aussies go to galleries than the AFL each year, but you wouldn’t know it from our cultural cringe. We quietly love art, but seem to hate artists, labelling them “bludgers” and “oddballs” when they’re actually the workers worth $117 billion p/a to our economy, and the weavers of the “cultural fabric” underlying our social cohesion.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

The film champions Australia’s artists and our artistic lineage and cultural heritage. It advocates for an Australia in which artists are seen as a necessary and important part of our culture, the value of their labour is respected, and cultural work is understood as crucial to our nation’s social cohesion and our to our cultural imagination. Culture is our shared understanding of who “we” are. Cultural work and expression of artists and creatives is vital to a well-developed, free society.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

Short term: Increased awareness of Dale Frank and engagement with his work. Screenings will create opportunities for aligned advocates to promote exploration of and engagement with similar [visual] artists, and with public health topics like neurodiversity, autism, chronic pain, or end of life. Increased understanding of the relationships between creativity, business, intrinsic cultural value / wellbeing, and extrinsic monetary valuations.
Medium: increasing attendance at exhibitions by Dale Frank and other contemporary, conceptual and abstract artists. Screenings for arts & culture policymakers and funders in support of developing Australia's next cultural strategy.
Long: Dale Frank’s story influences perceptions of Australian artists and the important role their work plays in articulating our evolving cultural identity. Increase uptake of arts education in regional Australia. Uphold the value of Dale Frank’s artworks, and personal contribution to Australian art.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

> Post-screening talks that equip viewers with new vocabulary and frameworks for understanding and valuing cultural labour; better-informed art appreciation; discerning the difference between intrinsic cultural value and monetary value / economic contribution.
> Special screenings (including international festival and biennale opportunities where available) and curated discussions for decisionmakers who fund arts programs
> Direct collaborations with gallerists to create a retrospective + screening events
> Make Art, Do Well, Be Well: emerging Artists will be incentivised to participate in professional development programs that help maintain sustainable, profitable business practices.
> Additional content for social media distribution (in collaboration with partner organisations) which overtly advocates for the impact vision
> New digital education resources using Dale Frank’s career narrative as an example of what can be achieved by creative Australians from rural and regional areas.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

Our impact producer, Felicity Blake, has existing connections with relevant organisations, educational institutions and art galleries developed over the past five years. Some of these relate to her time as impact producer for WHITELEY / cultural history researcher for FINDING THE ARCHIBALD (arts institutions and advocates), and impact producer for DYING TO LIVE (end of life; death literacy; chronic pain); other relationships have been developed as a result of her personal advocacy for the labour of creative workers and her training & experience as a business advisor for creatives (auspiced by NSW Business Connect).

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

Specific campaign actions and tactics will need to be devised in partnership with advocates. The film is currently in production, so a “brains trust” consultation session will be convened if Documentary Australia elects to accept this submission, donations can be accepted and formal partnerships established. Advocates for arts work have spent the last decade trying to change the minds and attitudes of policymakers; the results of the upcoming election might change the policymakers entirely, leading to a new opportunity to contribute to massive participatory input into Australia’s first overarching cultural strategy since the Keating era.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

• Increased attendance at Dale Frank exhibitions
• Increased website traffic around Dale Frank digital presences
• Increased attendance at cultural institutions displaying contemporary or conceptual art (e.g. NGA, MCA) and interaction with the Dale Frank works in their permanent collections
• Collaboration with the Create Centre at University of Sydney to analyse results of post-screening audience attitude survey
• Uptake of the professional development / business course for artists
• Uptake of educational resources
• Engagement with impact videos
• Festival Uptake
• Awards nominations – Positive Art Story in the news.