Daniel McFadden R.I.P.

UPDATE: According to Sally in the comments below, Danny’s funeral will be held in Cooma at St Patricks Church on Friday 15th Aug at 2pm and afterwards at the Raglan Gallery in Lambie St, Cooma where some of his art work will be on display.

Word has reached the Culturazi indesk of the passing of one of Canberra’s characters. Daniel McFadden apparently passed away on Wednesday evening, found by his cleaner in his housing flat.

Daniel McFadden

McFadden will be well known to many Canberrans, although in recent years his appearances in public have dwindled and I personally can’t recall seeing him for several years. But in days past McFadden was an ever present figure around Civic, despite having been flung out of his many haunts one by one. One of those, The Phoenix, sister pub to Filthy McFaddens which was named after Daniel, tolerated him, even patronised him for many years. For several of those, he had his own ‘studio’ there, a cupboard under the stairs to some, but a place for him to work and sell and hold bizarre court with the Phoenix flotsam.

Many will also be aware of his history with mental illness, some from the books that his mother wrote about him, some directly from his intermittently bizarre behaviour. Daniel was seldom if ever violent in my experience, but could at times exhibit a brooding intensity, at others a raving lunacy, that could be unsettling for less than wordly types.

Others may recall his art. Daniel was considered quite a wunderkind in his early days. He studied at the Canberra School of Art. Friends who studied with him describe a much different character than his latter manifestations. At 20 schizophrenia took hold and Danny was never the same again.

And yet he continued to make art throughout his life. At times it deteriorated to little more than photocopied pen drawings that he would attempt to sell on the street for chump change. But when he had access to good materials, Danny’s work could be striking and well-developed. I’m sure Danny originals decorate the walls of many houses around Canberra to this day. I have one (pictured above) on my own wall that Danny sold me for $20 with the special incentive of putting a small portrait of my partner within.

Unfortunately the vagaries of his mental states, the periodic lapses in medication, the homelessness and inconstancy, the poverty and the general lack of caring from a society that doesn’t know how to deal with the mentally ill conspired to defeat him. And some may argue that Danny was seldom his own best friend. He was not unknown to self-medicate. In the last week Danny was reported, allegedly, as saying that there was some good yellowish heroin in Canberra.

Apparently there will be a coroner’s enquiry into Danny’s death, delaying any announcement of a service. We will update with the details when they are available. If anyone has one of Danny’s images that they would like to share with others, I am going to build an on-line gallery of his work. Send in a jpeg or whatever.

Some random impressions of Danny here, here and here.

4 Responses to “Daniel McFadden R.I.P.”

  1. Danny died of a heart attack in his sleep. His funeral will be at St Patricks Church in COOMA on Friday 15th August.

    His mother recently made a book of some of his drawings, and recorded Danny expaining what each one was about.

  2. It has been confirmed that the funeral will be in Cooma at St Patricks Church on Friday 15th Aug at 2pm and afterwards at the Raglan Gallery in Lambie St, Cooma where some of his art work will be on display.

    His family were recipents of many of his art pieces, and I will arrange to contribute to your idea of an on-line gallery of his work.

    However, much of his work was integrated into the time and place of its production – made to suit the needs of the person persuaded to offer a coin in return, or ice sculpture on the footpath designed to fade with the sun.

  3. Thanks Sally.

    Please accept our condolences.

    I would be very happy to create that gallery.

  4. Farewell Danny from all your friends in Forster. I am trying to source some photos for the wall, and will send soon. I remember him as the man in the first two photos full of life, ready for anything, I am proud to call you my friend.